Category: Summit Entertainment
Taglines: The future must be won.
Ender’s Game is an American science fiction action film based on the novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card. Written and directed by Gavin Hood, the film stars Asa Butterfield as Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, an unusually gifted child who is sent to an advanced military academy in outer space to prepare for a future alien invasion. The supporting cast includes Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, and Ben Kingsley.
In the future, humanity is preparing to launch an attack on the homeworld of an alien race called the Formics who had attacked Earth fifty years earlier and killed millions. Gifted children are trained to become commanders of a new fleet for this attack.
Cadet Andrew “Ender” Wiggin draws the attention of Colonel Hyrum Graff and Major Gwen Anderson by his aptitude in simulated space combat. They order the removal of his monitor, signifying the end of the cadet program. Ender is beaten up by Stilson, a student he defeated in the combat sim, but Ender fights back and severely injures him. Ender confesses his grief to his older sister Valentine, but is harassed further by their older brother Peter. Graff arrives to announce Ender’s entrance into Battle School. Graff places Ender with other cadets his age, but treats him as extraordinary, ostracizing him from the others.
Among other studies, the cadets are placed in squads and perform training games in a zero gravity “Battle Room”. Ender quickly adapts to the games, devising new strategies older students have not yet seen. Graff reassigns Ender to Salamander Army, led by Commander Bonzo Madrid. Bonzo is resentful of the new addition and prevents Ender from training. Another cadet, Petra Arkanian, takes Ender and trains him privately. In one match, Ender goes against Bonzo’s orders and working with Petra, achieves a key victory for his army.
Meanwhile, Ender plays a computerized “mind game” set in a fantasy world aimed to present difficult choices to the player. In one situation, Ender creates a solution to overcome an unsolvable problem. Later, he encounters a Formic in the game, and then a simulated image of Valentine entering the ruins of a castle. Inside, he finds another image of Valentine but as he nears, it turns into an image of Peter before the game ends.
Graff promotes Ender to his own squad, made from other students that have gained Ender’s trust. They are put in increasingly difficult battles. In one match against two other teams including Bonzo’s squad, Ender devises a novel strategy of sacrificing part of his team to achieve a goal, impressing Graff. Bonzo accosts Ender in the bathroom after the match, but Ender fights back and mortally harms him. Distraught over this, Ender prepares to quit Battle School, but Graff has Valentine speak to him and convince him to continue.
Graff takes Ender to humanity’s forward base on a former Formic planet near their homeworld. There, Ender meets Mazer Rackham, who explains how he spotted the shared-mind nature of the Formics to stop the attack fifty years prior. Ender finds that his former squad members are also here to help him train in computerized simulations of large fleet combat; Rackham puts special emphasis on the fleet’s Molecular Detachment (MD) Device that is capable of disintegrating matter.[note 1] Ender’s training is rigorous and Anderson expresses concern they are pushing Ender too fast, but Graff notes they have run out of time to replace Ender.
Ender’s final test is monitored by several of the fleet commanders. As the simulation starts, Ender finds his fleet over the Formic homeworld and vastly outnumbered. He orders most of his fleet to sacrifice themselves to protect the MD long enough to fire on the homeworld. The simulation ends, and Ender believes the test is over, but the commanders restart the video screens, showing that the destruction of the Formic homeworld was real and Ender had been controlling the real fleet this time. Despite Graff’s assurance he will be known as a hero, Ender is furious as everyone will remember him as a killer.
As Ender struggles with his emotions, he recognizes one of the Formic structures nearby similar to the ruined castle from the game, and believing they were trying to communicate with him, races out towards it. He follows the path set by the game, and encounters a dying Formic queen who has been protecting another queen egg. As the movie concludes, Ender writes in a letter to Valentine that he is heading to deep space with the egg, determined to colonize a new Formic world with it.
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Starring: Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis
Screenplay by: Gavin Hood
Production Design by: Sean Haworth, Ben Procter
Cinematography by: Donald McAlpine
Film Editing by: Lee Smith, Zach Staenberg
Costume Design by: Christine Bieselin Clark
Set Decoration by: Peter Lando
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.
Studio: Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate Films
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Taglines: The most secure prison ever built.
Ray Breslin is the world’s top authority on prison structural security, who finds himself having to put his skills to the test when he is framed for a crime and sent up to a prison he helped design. He must escape and figure out who put him behind bars.
Early reports in 2010 speculated that Bruce Willis was cast as Ray Breslin. It was revealed by producer Mark Canton on The Matthew Aaron Show that Jim Caviezel has signed on to the film and has been revealed to be the main antagonist in the film, the prison warden Hobbs.
It was revealed in April 2012 that British actor Vinnie Jones has been signed on to star in Escape Plan. Vinnie Jones revealed to the newspaper The Sun that there are three inmates escaping from the prison. Jones has been confirmed to be starring in the film, and it has been revealed that Jones is playing the antagonist Drake, the corrupt and ruthless prison guard. Jones stated he starts filming on April 19 in New Orleans.
Variety and other media in the news have stated that Amy Ryan, Vincent D’Onofrio, and 50 Cent, have joined the cast of Escape Plan. It was confirmed in Mid-April that 50 Cent is the computer expert who was once incarcerated for cyber crimes helping Breslin’s character escape, D’Onofrio as the deputy director of the high-tech prison and Ryan as Stallone’s business partner and his potential love interest.
Directed by: Mikael Håfström
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, James Caviezel, Vincent D’Onofrio, Sam Neill, Amy Ryan, Steven Krueger, 50 Cent
Screenplay by: Miles Chapman, Jason Keller
Production Design by: Barry Chusid
Cinematography by: Brendan Galvin
Film Editing by: Elliot Greenberg
Costume Design by: Lizz Wolf
Set Decoration by: Bradford Johnson
Music by: Alex Heffes
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language throughout.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Former CIA black ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has spent his life dealing with bad guys. Hand-to-hand combat, diplomatic intrigue, jumping out of moving things, are his tools of the trade. Only when it came to a burgeoning relationship with Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) did things get shaky for him.
Frank is now content in their quiet life but Sarah is worried that he hasn’t killed anyone in months and that things are getting a little stale between them. She wants to mix things up a little so that their lives are filled with adventure, romance and danger—things they can do as a couple.
Sarah is about to get her wish to “be one of the guys” and Frank learns that keeping the girl is a lot more work than getting the girl and while saving the world can be hard, relationships are ridiculously hard.
Summit Entertainment presents a di Bonaventura Pictures production, Red 2 stars Bruce Willis, Academy Award® nominee John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Academy Award® winners Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Directed by Dean Parisot from a screenplay by Jon Hoeber & Eric Hoeber and based on characters created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, the movie also stars Byung Hun Lee, Brian Cox, and Neal McDonough and is produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian. .
The high-octane action-comedy sequel to the worldwide hit of 2010 finds Frank Moses and his old partner Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) still in the not-so-sedate life of retirement, but are now being dragged into a whirlwind as a next generation weapon—Nightshade—from the Cold War that went missing on Frank and Marvin’s watch has apparently resurfaced. And everyone now thinks that the two of them know its whereabouts.
MI6 has given Frank and Marvin’s buddy, deadly sharpshooter Victoria (Helen Mirren) a contract to eliminate the duo. In addition, a corrupt U.S. official (Neal McDonough) is sending another contract killer Han (Byung Hun Lee) after them which is music to Han’s ears, since he has an old score to settle with Frank.
Their mission has them hop scotching the globe from London to Paris to Moscow where they cross paths with Frank’s old flame Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and all of them are trying find a long-ago locked away genius scientist Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) who might be able to unravel the mystery of Nightshade, save themselves and save the world.
About the Production
The filmmakers were cognizant that in order to hold onto the comedic elements of the story they had to commit to the action and adventure first and then “the concerns of the characters which at times seem ludicrous become believable,” says director Parisot. “The structure is of an action movie but the characters are comedic because they can’t resolve their absurd issues which are happening during a lot of extreme violence.”
While the movie is filled with exotic locations, a car chase through Paris, and action galore, at its core it’s a relationship movie and the difficulty of lifer in the Black Ops game (Frank) and him wanting to do the right thing keep his fragile china doll (Sarah) safe. She wants the opposite and finds an ally in Marvin.
“Frank is ill-equipped to handle a basic relationship and Marvin is only too happy to dispense advice on how to make a relationship work, yet there’s a good chance Marvin knows nothing about the subject,” says Willis.
“The old adage ‘a stopped clock is right twice a day’ is applicable here because Marvin is most likely idiotic about relationships and any knowledge he thinks he has probably came from a self-help book because I can’t see Marvin in a relationship,” notes Malkovich.
Frank gets a more sophisticated and educated angle on relationships from Victoria who is well versed in mixing work and romance. “I think Victoria is in charge of Frank’s emotional life to a certain extent,” says Helen Mirren who reprises her role as Victoria. “Marvin may advise Frank, but Frank pays attention to Victoria who actually has had relationships in the context of her work. “She’s balanced in a strangely perverse way but understands that you could die at any time, so you have to commit and move forward,” notes Parisot.
“The great thing about all these characters is that while they lead the most extraordinary lives they have very ordinary problems and are saddled with the same inefficient inadequacies that the rest of us have,” says Mirren.
On the other hand, Sarah, while more emotionally stable, is not all together when it comes to her spy skill set. “She’s not a good liar; not very crafty and just doesn’t have a lot of valuable traits at her disposal,” says Parker. And when she meets Frank’s ex-flame (Katja) and sees the polish sophistication and sheer sultriness…Well, Sarah has her work cut out for her. “She just wants to be one of the gang and for a while all she can fall back on is her earnestness.”
“From the beginning, our goal was to provide the audience with a bigger, more expansive experience than the first movie,” says producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “But one of the dangers with sequels is that they can get too silly and soft and Bruce and myself were very cognizant of that during the development. Frank Moses is still a hard guy who’s going to pull a gun before he asks a question and Bruce was always grinding, pushing, analyzing because he wants the best out of the movie.”
What remains from the first movie, however, is the almost retro feel of the dialogue between Frank and Sarah. “Bruce and me always thought that our interplay should have a 1930s screwball comedy feel to it,” says Parker.
The interplay between the two actors gave Parisot a lot of options in the editing room: “Mary- Louise and Bruce play off of each other so brilliantly that I chose to go with a lot more two-shots than singles because I didn’t want to cut away from either of them,” says Parisot. “It’s a lot like the chemistry of the old Tracy-Hepburn movies and it was great fun watching them on set get to a fantastic place in the scene.”
With Morgan Freeman’s character dying in the first movie, the creative team had a challenge of more than just setting scenes in London and Paris; they needed firepower within the story and the cast to fill it. “We have powerhouse actors with Bruce, Mary-Louise, Malkovich, Helen and Brian Cox from the first movie, so we have to cast actors who can hold the screen with these folks and also create roles that challenge everyone as actors,” says producer Mark Vahradian.
Without tripping the gag on Anthony Hopkins’ character of Edward Bailey, Hopkins reached back into British history to create an armature for his character. “Tony was sending me emails a couple months before production trying to create this character and it was detailed as to what shoes Bailey would wear,” recalls Parisot. “He reads the script over and over and slowly evolves a character that is so much more than what was written.”
“I do go a bit overboard in reading the text… at least a couple hundred times,” says Hopkins. “But I do it so that I have a framework for improvising because you can open your brain up and not worry about the text because you know it cold. That’s when acting gets fun,” says Hopkins.
Zeta-Jones took the cliché of the female Russian spy and turned it on its head by adding comedy and quirkiness to tilt the character. “My goal was not to make it one dimensional—the type we’ve seen in Bond movies,” she notes. “When I read the script the first thing I did—well, after saying yes—was to go through scores of fashion magazines and send them off to Dean so we could visualize what Katja was about.”
Her scenes on the streets of Paris certainly were worthy of the iconic reputation the city has won for its history of fashion. “There was something wildly intense and eccentric what Catherine wore for the scene where she and Bruce’s character track down David Thewlis’s character of The Frog,” says Parisot. “Along with our costume designer Beatrix Pasztor, the two of them found the character in the wardrobe.”
David Thewlis also starting working on his character of The Frog in pre-production by sending Parisot photographs. They settled on a James Joyce look for his character of The Frog, a misanthrope who has the goods on any and all nefarious activity around the globe. He uses his ill-gotten knowledge to fund his devotion to the most expensive wines.
The anticipated sequel began production Sept. 14, 2012 in Montreal at the Olympic Stadium. Built for the 1976 summer Olympic Games, the facility, like nearly all the multi-use stadiums built in the
United States during the 1970s, is rarely used. The concrete dominated structure’s concourses have a very “bunker-like” look, so it dovetailed nicely with the need for the British government’s MI6 secret location.
Production continued for 14 shooting days with locations including a spectacular home that doubled for “The Frog’s” Paris apartment. Built in 1914 by famed architect Jean-Omer Marchand it is located on Wood St. in Montreal’s fashionable Westmount section. Other Montreal locations include a former branch of the Royal Bank of Canada in Old Montreal; St.-Andrew’s church in Chateauguay; the opening scene of the movie was shot in a Costco; the City of Montreal’s Finance Building stood in for the Kremlin’s headquarters and north of the city in St-Colomban was the set for Hank’s Internet Café, which 30 years earlier was the resort the Colford Inn.
Five scenic days were then shot in Paris (as opposed to movies which will have an establishing shot of the Eiffel Tower, then cut to interior shots). “It was important to us to shoot in Paris,” notes di Bonaventura, “because Paris gives a sense of romance and the romance between Frank and Sarah is looking for its footing. She wants adventure and to be in Paris on a mission is beyond romantic for her.”
The city was also chosen because it’s the place where Frank and Katja see each other for the first time and it gives an insecure Sarah a reason to “up her game” and buy clothes in Paris to at least try and close the gap between her and her perceived rival.
The first day, October 10, was in front of and inside of the Hotel Regina, facing Jardin des Tuileries (The Tuileries Garden) and the Louvre immediately around the corner. A couple hundred onlookers watched from the across the street and for the day the shoot became yet another tourist attraction in Paris.
Much of the Paris shoot revolves around a car chase involving the characters of Willis, Malkovich, Parker, Zeta-Jones and David Thewlis’ quasi-man-of-mystery character “The Frog” on Pont de la Tournelle on the east side of the majestic Gothic masterpiece, Notre Dame. A specially retrofitted Citroen was rigged so that it could drive down the steps to the bank of the Seine.
On October 12, the car chase sequence moved to neighborhood in the shadow of the Pantheon on Rue St. Etienne du Mont on the Left Bank and a day later moved around the corner to Rue de la Montage Ste Genevieve which the locale for Midnight in Paris when Owen Wilson’s character caught his nightly other worldly taxi tide. For Red 2 the scene of Frank and Katja reminiscing over a dinner at an outdoor café was mere yards from the Woody Allen movie. “When we scouted the location it was during the day and it was not until we came to shoot at night did we realize where we were,” notes Parisot.
The company moved on to London with the first scene shot featuring Willis, Malkovich, Parker and Mirren on a Thames riverboat cruise. London’s Fishmonger’s Hall was utilized as the Iranian embassy in its courtyard and the ornate Banqueting Hall.
A street in Moscow was created on October 27, a quiet Saturday in the shuttered financial district in central London that, appropriately enough, had a chill factor in the 20s when the day began.
Closed since 1994 as the realization that the Cold War was truly over, RAF Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire posed as a Russian airfield with the Dunsfold aeropark (another shuttered RAF base) the locale for the German airfield.
The scenes that take place in Paris’ Hotel George-V was done with a variety of London locations; the Langham Hotel, the stately Hedsor House in Taplow and the Luten Hoo estate which has been used for such movies as Four Weddings and a Funeral, War Horse and Eyes Wide Shut.
The inner sanctum of the Kremlin was built in East London at Tobacco Dock. Built in the early 18th century as a warehouse for the storage of tobacco from the New World, the most recent incarnation of the building was a shopping mall until it shuttered a few years ago. The ground floor of arching brick passageways made it ideal to give of a sense of foreboding for the scenes.
Directed by: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins
Screenplay by: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Production Design by: Jim Clay
Cinematography by: Enrique Chediak
Film Editing by: Don Zimmerman
Costume Design by: Beatrix Aruna Pasztor
Set Decoration by: Lisa Chugg, Suzanne Cloutier
Music by: Alan Silvestri
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material.
Studio: Summit Entertainment (Lionsgate Films)
Release Date: July 18, 2013
Taglines: 4 amazing magicians. 3 impossible heists. 1 billion dollars. This is no illusion.
Now You See Me pits an elite FBI squad in a game of cat and mouse against The Four Horsemen, a super-team of the world’s greatest illusionists. The Four Horsemen pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders during their performances, showering the stolen profits on their audiences while staying one step ahead of the law.
Four street magicians—J. Daniel Atlas, Henley Reeves, Jack Wilder, and Merritt McKinney—are brought together by an unknown benefactor and, one year later, perform in Las Vegas as “The Four Horsemen”, sponsored by insurance magnate Arthur Tressler. For the finale, a member of the audience is invited to help them in their next trick: robbing a bank. That member in an audience is Étienne Forcier, the account holder at the Credit Republicain de Paris. Forcier is apparently teleported to his bank in Paris, where he activates an air-duct that vacuums up the money and showers it onto the crowd in Las Vegas.
Upon discovering that the money really is missing from the bank vault, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes is called to investigate the theft and is partnered with Interpol agent Alma Dray. They interrogate the Four Horsemen, but release them when no explanation can be found. Dylan meets Thaddeus Bradley, an ex-magician who makes money by revealing the secrets behind other magicians’ tricks. Thaddeus was in the audience and deduced that the Four Horsemen stole the money weeks before, and manipulated the audience’s perception of current events. Dylan, Dray, and Thaddeus attend the Four Horsemen’s next performance in New Orleans.
The group’s finale involves them stealing roughly $140 million from Tressler’s bank account and distributing it to the audience, composed of people whose insurance claims had been denied or reduced by Tressler’s company. Dylan attempts to arrest the Four Horsemen, but they escape with help from hypnotised audience members. An infuriated Tressler hires Thaddeus to expose and humiliate the Four Horsemen in their next performance.
Later, while researching the Four Horsemen’s background, Dray learns about rumors of a secret society of magicians called “The Eye”, who steal from the rich and powerful to give to the needy, and suggests to a skeptical Dylan the case might be tied to a magician named Lionel Shrike, whom Thaddeus had exposed 30 years earlier and who was so embarrassed that he undertook a dangerous underwater stunt and drowned.
The Four Horsemen are located in New York, but they escape during the raid to arrest them. However, Jack is killed when he crashes a stolen car and it bursts into flames and explodes. The remaining Horsemen vow to continue and complete their final performance, stealing a safe made by the same company that made the safe Lionel Shrike died in. Then they perform their one last show at 5 Pointz during which they seemingly vanish into thin air, transforming into loads of money that is showered on the crowd. The money turns out to be a fake and the real money is found stashed in Thaddeus’s Range Rover. Thaddeus is then assumed to be the fifth Horseman and arrested, although he said that he was framed.
Dylan visits Thaddeus in his cell, where the man explains the only way the safe could have been removed was if Jack was still alive but they would have also needed an inside man. Thaddeus realizes that Dylan is the fifth Horseman, when the agent disappears from the locked cell, reappearing on the outside. Dylan tells Thaddeus he wants him to spend the rest of his life in jail and leaves as Thaddeus asks why he did it.
The Horsemen are now rejoined by Jack, whose death was staged. They finally meet their benefactor and are surprised to find it is Dylan. He welcomes them into “The Eye.”
Later, on the Pont des Arts in France, Dray is met by Dylan (as he reveals himself to be the son of Lionel Shrike, the magician who drowned years ago). He masterminded and designed the Horsemen plot to obtain revenge on those involved: Thaddeus, for humiliating his father; the Credit Republicain de Paris and Tressler’s company, who refused to pay the insurance on his father’s death; and the company that produced the substandard safe used in the trick that led to its failure. Dray, however, decides not to turn him in. When Dray sees the lock with a key that Dylan magically handed out in front of her eyes, he proclaimed, “One more secret to lock away”. As soon as Dray locks the lock on a chained fence with all of the locks that have been locked, she throws the key into the Seine.
In a post-credit scene in the extended cut, The Horsemen are seen arriving at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas. They find crates marked with the sign of the “Eye”. The movie ends with them looking for the four key cards to open the crates that hold their new equipment.
Now You See Me
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Common, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Stephanie Honoré
Screenplay by: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin
Production Design by: Peter Wenham
Cinematography by: Mitchell Amundsen, Larry Fong
Film Editing by: Robert Leighton, Vincent Tabaillon
Costume Design by: Jenny Eagan
Set Decoration by: Fontaine Beauchamp Hebb
Music by: Brian Tyler
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Taglines: Evil will rise.
Dr. Cara Jessup has made a career out of defying the notion of multiple personality disorders. In the courtroom, her views and testimonies as an expert witness against multiple personality disorders have resulted in the death sentence of more than half a dozen murderers. Cara is devoted to science, but even her husband’s horrific murder did not cause Cara to lose her faith in God. Not so for her young daughter Samantha, a committed unbeliever.
After a particularly troubling court case, Cara’s father Dr. Harding introduces her to his new patient – Adam. The more she unearths about Adam, the more her life and those closest to her are endangered. As she explores Adam’s past, Cara’s world begins to fall apart and she is forced to question her strong beliefs in science and in God. Racing against the clock to solve the mystery surrounding Adam, Cara must not lose faith or it could have grave consequences for her and her family.
Shelter is a 2008, released in 2010. American supernatural horror thriller film directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, written by Michael Cooney, and starring Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The film was released as 6 Souls in the United States on March 1, 2013 for video on demand, followed by a limited theatrical release on April 5, 2013.
Directed by: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
Starring: Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Conroy, Brooklynn Proul
Screenplay by: Michael Cooney
Production Design by: Tim Galvin
Cinematography by: Linus Sandgren
Film Editing by: Steve Mirkovich
Costume Design by: Luca Mosca
Set Decoration by: Rebecca Brown
Music by: John Frizzell
MPAA Rating: R for Violent content, disturbing images and terror.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: April 5, 2013
Taglines: How far would you go to save your son?
Businessman John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) is devastated when his 18-year-old son Jason (Rafi Gavron) receives a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence in federal prison when is caught with a package he received from a friend which, unbeknownst to him, contained illicit drugs. When Jason turns down an offer from politically ambitious U.S. Attorney Joanne Keeghan(Susan Sarandon) to reduce his sentence by manufacturing evidence against someone else, John begs Keeghan to let him go undercover instead.
John infiltrates a violent gang led by ruthless drug dealer Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams), but in his efforts to save his son, he compromises another innocent man(Jon Bernthal). And when he unexpectedly exposes a major player in the Mexican drug trade(Benjamin Bratt), the already dangerous venture turns potentially deadly.
About the Production
Snitch has all the elements of a full-blown, edge-of-your-seat action thriller: an iconic hero in star Dwayne Johnson, a riveting script by co-writer Justin Haythe and co-writer/director Ric Roman Waugh, and state-of-the-art stunts. But the film, a passion project for its producers at Exclusive Media, also tells a compelling story that addresses a little-known but deadly consequence of the current war on drugs.
“The script came out of a ‘Frontline’ piece about real cases in our justice system where people were given a choice between becoming informants and going to jail,” says Matt Jackson, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of US Production at Exclusive Media and Producer of SNITCH. “Justin Haythe, a really great writer, did the first draft and we developed it over a number of years.”
The finished film is more a dramatic thriller than a typical action movie, says Jackson. “As much as there’s an action element, SNITCH is about an all-American family confronted with an unfair situation that our justice system mandates. A kid makes a mistake and his entire life is going to be ruined.”
The story focuses on John Matthews, owner of a construction company in the American heartland, whose 18-year-old son, Jason, is framed for dealing ecstasy by another kid who is trying to save his own skin. The penalty for simply receiving the package is ten to thirty years in federal prison and Jason’s only chance at lessening the sentence is turning in someone else. Since he doesn’t know any drug dealers, his only choice would be to lie and fabricate evidence against a friend. When he refuses, his father takes matters into his own hands.
“Jason is a regular teenager,” says Jackson. “He reluctantly accepts a package for a friend without knowing what the consequences are. We take the position that everyone makes stupid mistakes sometimes and that the laws should reflect the severity of the offense. And in this case, he’s an innocent kid who screwed up. John, our hero, is an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation where he has to act to save his son.”
As the script evolved, Jackson brought in Ric Roman Waugh to direct, based on the success of his previous film Felon, a different, but complementary story about another unfair incarceration.
“Ric’s knowledge of law enforcement and unique understanding of the justice system elevated the movie,” says Jackson. “He found a balance between action and drama that is perfect. Ric really has a handle on that, so there’s something there for everyone. The concept is universal. Would you, as a parent, sacrifice yourself and try to root out really, really bad guys to help your son? Most parents will do whatever they need to do to help their children and John is an example of that.”
Waugh was initially shocked, and then galvanized, by what he learned about the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. “Under these harsh guidelines, the only way to reduce the sentence is to snitch on other potential drug traffickers,” says Waugh. “Since Jason has no one to turn in and he refuses to lie, his father goes to the U.S. Attorney and offers to help find a real drug dealer in exchange for leniency for his son.”
After reading the earlier version of the script, Waugh began to fine-tune the story and the characters. “I learned as much as I could about the true stories that inspired this,” he says. “Then I did a rewrite that I think gives the audience what it wants in terms of action, but in a grounded, realistic way. This is not a pure popcorn movie. You won’t roll your eyes because something is unbelievable.”
Waugh was born into a filmmaking family. “My father was a legend in the stunt world,” he says. “He took me onto film sets when I was a baby and I started working as a professional stuntman as a teenager. I got my training with some of the top directors out there: Steven Spielberg, Richard Donner, John McTiernan, James Cameron, Tony Scott, just to name a few. I not only gained a practical knowledge of filmmaking, but I began to form my own creative point of view.”
Part of that process was giving the film the immediacy of a first-person perspective. “You’re not only watching the characters,” says Waugh. “You’re feeling yourself in their positions. For me, the key element was seeing how far a parent would go to save his kid. I am the father of twin four-year-old sons and I believe I would move heaven and earth for them if they were in danger. That is what this movie is about.”
Executive Producer Becki Cross Trujillo, who worked closely with Waugh through preproduction and the day-to-day shooting schedule, has high praise for the writer-director. He was “fantastic to work with. As the writer, he knows every aspect of the story and has every shot in his head — he works so fast it’s almost impossible for everyone to keep up with him. He’s prepared, which makes my job easy because we know what’s coming and we can be ready for it. Things always happen on the set that you can’t control and he’s fast on his feet. He comes up with ways to make things better and make it all work within our time frame.”
Jonathan King, Executive Vice President of Production at Participant Media and Producer of SNITCH, notes that his company was developing a different project with Waugh. “As SNITCH started to move forward, Exclusive was looking for a partner on it. We knew it was a great script and it made sense for our company’s mission. Since we really wanted to work with Ric, it was an easy yes.
“No one’s easier to work with than Ric,” adds King. “And no one works harder. He has a nose for authenticity. Anything that’s phony he’ll get rid of immediately.”
It was a plus for both sides that Waugh loves research and Participant Media had the resources to help him. “We have partnerships with non-governmental organizations, non-profits, legislative campaigns, all sorts of resources we reach out to find out the reality of a situation,” King notes.
Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Nadine Velazquez, Susan Sarandon, Michael K. Williams, Jon Bernthal
Screenplay by: Justin Haythe, Ric Roman Waugh
Production Design by: Vincent Reynaud
Cinematography by: Dana Gonzales
Film Editing by: Jonathan Chibnall
Costume Design by: Kimberly Adams-Galligan
Set Decoration by: Kristin Bicksler
Music by: Antonio Pinto
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for drug content and sequences of violence.
Studio: Lionsgate Films, Summit Entertainment
Release Date: February 22, 2013
Taglines: Bros before brains.
A funny twist on a classic love story, this is a tale about the power of human connection. After a zombie epidemic, R (a highly unusual zombie) encounters Julie (a human survivor), and rescues her from a zombie attack. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and as the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human – setting off an exciting, romantic, and often comical chain of events that begins to transform the other zombies and maybe even the whole lifeless world.
Zombies love people, especially their brains. But R (Nicholas Hoult) is different. He’s alive inside, unlike the hundreds of other grunting, drooling undead—all victims of a recent plague that drove the remaining survivors into a heavily guarded city. Now the Zombies roam about an airport terminal, searching for human prey and living in fear of the vicious Boneys, the next undead incarnation.
One day, R and his best friend M lumber toward the city in search of food. There, R first sets his eyes on Julie (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful human. Determined to save her—first from the other Zombies and then from the Boneys – R hides her in his home, a cluttered 747 aircraft. Julie is terrified, and R’s grunted assurances of “Not…eat” do little to calm her. But when R begins to act more human than Zombie, coming to her defense, refusing to eat human flesh, and even speaking in full sentences, Julie realizes that R is special.
After a few close calls with the Boneys, and with her father mounting an armed search for her, Julie realizes she can’t hide forever. So she sneaks back home, leaving R broken-hearted. Desperate to see her, R decides to comb his hair, stand a little straighter, and impersonate a human long enough to get past the city guards. If only he can prove to the humans that Zombies can change, maybe R and Julie’s love might stand a chance. But with the rampaging Boneys heading toward the city and Julie’s father intent on killing R and his Zombie friends, the stage is set for an all-out battle between the living and the undead.
About the Feature
WARM BODIES began life as a seven‐page online short story titled “I am a Zombie Filled with Love” that attracted a wide Internet audience and led author Isaac Marion, with some encouragement, to expand it into his debut 2010 novel. Described as a “zombie romance” by the Seattle Post Intelligencer, complete with allusions to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the novel captivated producer Bruna Papandrea (MILK, ALL GOOD THINGS).
“As a piece of writing, it was so elegant and beautiful,” says Papandrea, who at a friend’s recommendation got hold of the book before it was published and read it from cover to cover during a flight. “It had such an incredibly strong voice and character. Although it was a genre piece, it was an incredibly emotional, character-driven story.”
Papandrea, who had just started her own production company, Make Movies, immediately set about securing the film rights, and three days later she was in Marion’s hometown of Seattle to meet with the writer. Soon afterwards she sent the manuscript to some of her closest studio contacts, including Erik Feig, a production executive at Summit Entertainment.
“It was a little astounding how fast they responded,” Papandrea recalls. “Within weeks, they told me they wanted to make the movie and were optioning the book.”
In part Papandrea and others were drawn to the novel’s portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world from the viewpoint of the zombies themselves.
“I’d never heard anyone treat these creatures as individuals, something that would have a perspective,” Marion says. “They’re always used as props in the background that come rushing at the human characters. They’re anonymous and mindless.”
Instead of the typical black-and-white, all-or-nothing, human-or-zombie portrayal of the conflict between living and undead, Marion chose to explore the gray areas in between — how a person transitions into becoming a zombie and then back to being human. “That concept really fascinated me,” he says.
In a strange way, Marion says his novel was not only personal, but even a little autobiographical. “As I developed this story, I started to notice parallels with what was going on in my life at the time,” he explains. “I was coming out of this period of being very emotionally detached, cynical and living in a lifeless state. It became a fairly thinly veiled metaphor for that process that I went through.” With Summit on board, Papandrea next took the project to writer-director Jonathan Levine (50/50, THE WACKNESS), whose initial resistance to doing a movie based on a young adult novel waned when he saw how wildly creative the book was.
“I identified with the main character, and the book Isaac wrote really allowed for these incredible directorial flourishes and aggressive style,” Levine says. “I was excited about the opportunity to push the envelope visually, and it was a great character piece, as well. It’s an adventure. It’s a romance. It’s got comedic elements. It’s got horror elements.”
Collaborating closely with Marion, Levine went on to write the screenplay for the film. He says he saw the love relationship between R and Julie at the heart of the story as a “mash-up” of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Frankenstein.”
“The arc of their relationship was the most important thing to me to get right directorially — the push and pull of guys and girls, the way relationships start and people are nervous at first, maybe even repulsed, and then come together,” he says.
For producer Todd Lieberman (THE FIGHTER, THE PROPOSAL), Levine was a great pick for director. “It’s a zombie genre film, there’s a love story, but it also happens to capture a unique, self-aware, self-referential, humorous tone,” he says. “Jonathan is tailor-made to do something like that.”
As for the film’s larger themes, the filmmakers say it follows in the tradition of zombie movies that make a social commentary, including George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, but with some key twists that make it especially original.
“The salient theme at the heart of it is that people have forgotten what it means to be human and, through the interaction of these two characters, other people re-learn what it means to be human,” Levine says. “Not just the zombies, but the humans, too.”
Despite the existence of the so-called “Boneys” — a more advanced breed of zombie that is beyond the point of no return — WARM BODIES also features less gore and physical disintegration than many other films in its genre.
“I don’t even look at it, really, as a zombie movie,” Levine says. “I look at it as a monster movie that turns into a love story. We’re working within the zombie mythology, but we’re using that mythology as a means to an end, as shorthand for something else.”
Part of that shorthand is the startlingly original conceit — and recurring structural device — of having the zombies relive the memories of their human victims by eating their brains. To wit: R falls in love with Julie by reliving her boyfriend Perry’s memories through ingesting his brains. “It’s such an amazingly unique way to fall in love with someone,” Papandrea says.
In casting the movie, the filmmakers pulled together a blend of seasoned actors and relative newcomers. For the role of the film’s undead romantic lead R, they cast British actor Nicholas Hoult (ABOUT A BOY, A SINGLE MAN), after seeing his work on the envelope-pushing British TV drama SKINS.
“He was sensational; the performance was just so strong,” says Papandrea of Hoult’s work in SKINS. “He had an intensity to his face and gesture that was remarkable.” For his part, Hoult says he was drawn to the challenge the role presented. “The idea of this zombie who I have to try to make an audience care about and root for, that was interesting to me,” he says. “In the script, he was very funny and eloquent in his voiceover, so there was a charm about him and a humor as well.”
Hoult, who found Marion’s book “a fantastic read” and Levine’s adaptation “a real page-turner,” describes the character of R as a zombie who feels trapped and lonely, stumbling around the abandoned airport that is his home and wanting more from life.
“The most compelling thing about R is his need to connect,” Hoult says. “He wants to connect with the other zombies in the airport, even though they’ve got nothing to really say to him and can’t even say their names. He wants to connect with Julie and to feel alive. That’s one of the most human instincts ever — to want to feel a part of something and to connect with another human.”
One of the challenges of the role was the fact that, at least initially, R cannot speak in words — a condition that gradually changes as the story progresses.
“A lot of the time I had to communicate just through movement, my eyes, the things I do, or the records R plays for Julie,” Hoult says. “The idea of not being able to say what you’re thinking was something that was exciting for me. It makes you think in a slightly different way than you normally would.”
For the role of R’s human love interest, Julie Grigio, the filmmakers chose Australian-born Teresa Palmer (I AM NUMBER FOUR) from a shortlist of five actresses who made it through to read with Hoult.
“There’s something about Australian actresses, a confidence and strength,” says Papandrea, who is an Aussie herself. “It’s a very hands‐on approach over there, a little different from America. It’s difficult to find a girl who is young, very beautiful and has vulnerability, but also is such a fireball.”
Those qualities perfectly equipped Palmer to play the role of Julie. “She’s a warrior,” Palmer says of her character. “She’s strong and has an amazing energy. She’s bubbly; she’s got a big spirit and a good heart. Things have really been dimmed for her since her mother was killed by one of the zombies. She’s unhappy. Then she meets R. He breathes life back into her. They fall for each other and she’s reminded of what life can be like and starts to hope again, which is a really beautiful thing. ”
But it wasn’t love at first sight for Julie and R, who meet under the most violent of circumstances. When R saves Julie from the other zombies and takes her back to his lair in an old airplane at the abandoned airport, Julie figures he’s just storing her as a snack for later. But she begins to soften when R starts to look after her by bringing her blankets and food. And so the seeds of their unlikely romance are sown.
Although Marion insists the film is not “Romeo and Juliet” with zombies, he admits that the Shakespeare classic informs some of the film’s subtext. There’s even a balcony scene and — in what is surely a first in the genre — a romantic kiss between the zombie R and his human object of desire, Julie.
Levine admits the balcony scene is a nod to “Romeo and Juliet” and says it was fun to shoot — even though he had doubts about it: “It was a scene I wasn’t always sure about, to be honest, because it kind of comes at this point in the script when we’re transitioning from the first to the second half of the movie, which is a little broader. It was always a tonal shift that concerned me. But I watch it now and I’m really happy with it.”
For the role of General Grigio, Julie’s cold, dogmatic father and the leader of the human survivors, the filmmakers were thrilled to land landed John Malkovich (DANGEROUS LIAISONS, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH). “It’s a smaller role in the context of the other roles in the movie but it’s incredibly important,” says Papandrea. “We really needed someone who immediately came on the scene and had gravitas. I honestly could not imagine else who could play that role.” For his part, Malkovich says he was attracted by the film’s storytelling. “I especially liked the two main characters and the way the story unfolds. In the writing of the screenplay based on the novel, there’s still quite a novelistic approach that I liked.”
Although the actor shared something of a father-daughter dynamic with Palmer off-camera, Malkovich says the General and Julie are in intense opposition on screen. “He ups the pressure on Julie and what she’s feeling and thinking, because her father is in charge of exterminating the group which her love object happens to belong to.”
But even General Grigio evolves eventually. “That’s really in the very last frames of the film,” Levine explains. “It’s a sudden conversion, based on something he sees that he’s never seen before.”
The filmmakers turned to THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART alumnus Rob Corddry (HOT TUB TIME MACHINE) to play the character of R’s best friend, M, which Levine describes as one of the film’s most critical roles. “M, in many ways, is the heart of the movie,” Levine says. “R’s change sparks everything, but M’s change is representative of everyone else.”
For Corddry, who also read Marion’s novel, the role of M was much more interesting than the average “best friend” role. “Those guys are usually just straight plot devices,” Corddry says. “I actually get to change. I might be the only best friend in movie history that has his own trajectory.”
Ironically it was the simplicity of the role that gave Corddry the most angst initially. The actor likes to do a lot of preparation around his character’s back story to stave off anxiety. “If I feel like I have a lot of subtext, I’m not going to be worried when I’m shooting,” Corddry says. “But I couldn’t do that this time. I had to be prepared in the moment. This movie was an exercise for me in really being present every time the cameras rolled.”
Palmer says Corddry’s character, while lovable and hilarious, has some pretty complex aspects. “He’s the most sexual of the zombies that we meet,” she says. “He wants to eat humans and he doesn’t understand what’s going on with him. He can’t quite wrap his head around the idea that R has taken this human girl hostage and is now falling in love with her. He finds it bizarre and strange, but he loves R so he goes along with it. There’s also a hint of jealousy in there too, at one point.”
Dave Franco (21 JUMP STREET, SUPERBAD) plays the role of Perry, Julie’s high school sweetheart who becomes R’s lunch early in the movie. Papandrea says that in many ways the actor was the greatest discovery of the movie.
“He’s just starting to break out,” she says of Franco, who is the younger brother of actor James Franco (127 HOURS, SPIDER-MAN). “He just lights up the screen and he’s a joy to be around. He’s a very inquisitive actor and person. I think that really comes across in the character of Perry.”
“He has to make a very big impact in a very short time and he really does it,” adds Levine. “He’s so charming and likeable, and so talented, that he sticks with you throughout the movie.” Perry starts off as a naÃ¯ve young man who is madly in love with Julie, but then becomes obsessed with killing zombies after he witnesses them killing his father. Although Perry doesn’t last long, his memories of doomed love affair with Julie — experienced second-hand by R — form a crucial through-line of the film.
“I actually get killed off within the first 10 minutes of the movie and the rest of my story plays out in flashbacks,” Franco explains. “It affects R’s relationship with Julie. From the start, we’re desperately in love with each other and going through all this together. By the end Perry completely loses sight of that because he’s so single minded, and their relationship starts to disintegrate.”
Franco speculates that Julie may be drawn to R because she sees some of Perry in him. “I feel like he reminds her of how Perry was when they first met — this very innocent, sweet relationship,” he says.
Finally, for the role of Julie’s best friend, Nora, the filmmakers cast Analeigh Tipton (CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.; THE GREEN HORNET) — a casting decision that had producer Todd Lieberman’s full support.
“Analeigh blew me away in CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.,” he says. “She was a stand out in that movie. Finding an accomplished comedic actress in that age range is difficult. Analeigh came in and read for the part and nailed it.”
For her part, the actress says her character is “a bag of fun” who combines wit with a talent for killing zombies. She also provides something of a pragmatic foil for Julie’s romantic tendencies.
“When Nora discovers Julie has fallen for a zombie, she freaks out,” Tipton says. “Like any good friend would be, she’s concerned that her best friend is falling in love with someone that could eat her brains. But she comes around because she trusts Julie.”
Tipton says Nora’s worldly ways may be a form of self‐preservation at times. “She approaches situations with dry humor instead of really dealing with them — or her feelings,” the actress says. “She tries to make everything no big deal. She’s so strong and doesn’t give a damn. That’s fun, to be really out there, especially for a female character.”
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, John Malkovich
Screenplay by: Jonathan Levine, Isaac Marion
Production Design by: Martin Whist
Cinematography by: Javier Aguirresarobe
Film Editing by: Nancy Richardson
Costume Design by: George L. Little
Set Decoration by: Suzanne Cloutier
Art Direction by: Gilles Aird, Jean Kazemirchuk
Music by: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for zombie violence and some language.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: February 1, 2013