Marley, Spider-Verse, Disney: Weekly Round Up

Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse Swings To Number 1

Marley, Spider-Verse, Disney: Weekly Round Up. The Galactic Empire (or Disney, if you prefer) haven’t exactly had the best track record in terms of creativity. They are far more interested in brand and profit than they are in anything related to new, envelope pushing ideas. This is why we’ve seen a slew of Pixar sequels since the studio took over, and why they’ve just locked all their recently acquired Fox back-catalogue away in their Vault (and on a side note, I think the Disney Vault is supposed to sound like a magical place where they keep movies ready for restoration and Special Edition re-releases, but to me it sounds like a prison…).

Take Star Wars, for example. A property they bought for a hefty sum, and then began “re-imagining” by, well, playing it painfully safe and essentially remaking the original. Sure, we all enjoyed The Force Awakens for giving us that warm, nostalgia-tinted feeling, but can anyone honestly say it’s a film that really made them think? Of course not. It may have been the movie we needed at the time, but it’s not the movie such a ground-breaking series like Star Wars deserved.

And since J J “mystery box” Abrams’ 2015 take on the franchise, Disney have had… issues, shall we say? And almost all of them are aligned with their struggle with creativity.

Since TFA, there have been, by my count, eight filmmakers attached to varies projects in a Galaxy Far Far Away…, and of those eight, four have walked due to the dreaded “creative differences” we hear so much about. The most recent of those four are David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the showrunners of HBO’s incredibly popular, and then suddenly incredibly rubbish, adult fantasy series Game of Thrones.

Benioff and Weiss join the liked of Josh Trank (remember him?), Colin Trevorrow and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, all of whom have also stepped down from Star Wars themes movies.

Rumor has it that Benioff and Weiss were tapped to produce an original trilogy set in the Star Wars universe, and that that trilogy may have centered around the origins of the Jedi Knights themselves, meaning that it would have pre-dated even Knights of the Old Republic. Although Disney are still planning on releasing a Star Wars movie in December 2022, just what this particular project would have been remains a mystery. We do know, however, that it won’t be Kevin Feige’s movie.

The departure of the Game of Thrones showrunners fits something of a pattern with Disney and their Star Wars properties. As well as the four previously mentioned potentials, Gareth Edwards, who helmed the first so-called “anthology” movie, Rogue One, suffered a great deal from behind the scenes studio interference, while Ron Howard, who was brought in to finish Solo after Lord and Miller’s departure, was simply “fixing” what that duo had already done.

This means that of the eight filmmakers attached to Star Wars projects at one time or another since Disney got their hands on the property, only two have actually completed a full movie, and one of them has received such harsh criticism and backlash from fans its questionable whether he would ever return, and the other played it so safe last time there’s a genuine worry his trilogy capping Rise of Skywalker will climax on a Forest Moon and feature an army of teddy-bears…

Quite where Disney go from here remains a mystery, although The Mandalorian seems to be generating a lot of positive buzz. Personally, I’d like to see the studio return to the “anthology” movie approach and side-step any further trilogies in favor of creative led, single voice helmed stand-alone movies that explore different areas the vast universe Star Wars offers up. What does a Star Wars horror movie look like, for example?

While we’re on the subject of Disney, it seems they’re eager to drag up any existing property they can to make a quick buck, and their latest project comes in the form of yet another adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas set ghost story, A Christmas Carol.

The film is called Marley, and will be a musical directed by Bill Condon, who’s 2017 big-screen remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was as boringly unoriginal and depressingly cynical as I can’t help but expect this movie to be.

I don’t mean to be so dour or negative about Disney all the time, it’s just that I have become so dour and negative about Disney. A Christmas Carol is a story that has withstood countless adaptations, many of them becoming classics in their own right (I mean, who doesn’t love Scrooged, and The Muppets Christmas Carol is probably the best on-screen version of the story we are ever likely to get), but this just feels somewhat like a cash-in.

I could be proven wrong, however, and I sincerely hope I do. Recent reports seem to be suggesting that the Marley film will be a sort of riff on Bettlejuice as much as A Christmas Carol, where we follow Marley in the afterlife during the events of Dickens’ novel.

Whether or not it keeps the spooky factor that makes Dickens’ classic so memorable remains to be seen – even The Muppets gets bloody terrifying when the Ghost of Christmas Future shows up… *shudders* – but at least it doesn’t sound entirely like a really dull rehash. Fingers crossed this Marley turns out well, because any new version of that story is always a tantalizing prospect.

Another exploration of the afterlife is in the works, this time of the more horror-centric variety, as Chad and Carey Hayes, the guys who wrote the first two Conjuring movies, and a whole load of the spin-offs that make up the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, are busy scribbling away ideas for a new horror franchise, this one based around the events reported to have taken place at the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans.

For those of you who don’t know, LauLaurie Mansion is supposedly the most haunted house in New Orleans. The spine-tingling stories around the mansion begin with the tale of Delphine LaLaurie, who was a serial killer who tortured and murdered slaves in the house. She inspired the character played by Kathy Bates in the third season of America Horror Story, Coven.

Any new horror property is set to get me excited, so I’ll be watching this one closely. I quite enjoy the Conjuring movies for what they are, namely ghost train films designed to give you a quick scare and not much else, so this one bodes well.

Finally, let’s top this off with some animated news. After forcing Disney to renegotiate on the deal for Spider-Man earlier this year, Sony have now announced their plan for an Into the Spider-Verse sequel. The film will reportedly once again focus on Miles Morales, the hero from the first, and is scheduled for a release date of April 2022. Marvel have a couple of movies slated for release that year too, including a sequel to Black Panther, but I think it’s safe to say after the brilliance of the first Into the Spider-Verse, I’m immensely curious to see what this one winds up being.

Marley, Spider-Verse, Disney: Weekly Round Up

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Alex Secker is a writer/director/editor. His debut feature film, the micro-budget thriller Follow the Crows, won Best Independent Film at the Global Film Festival Awards, while his stage-play, The Door, won the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 Swinge Festival.