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Why the world needs another Will Ferrell-Adam McKay collaboration

FILM | It's been four years since the beloved duo has teamed up on a film and that's far too long for us

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While Will Ferrell is set to return to theaters this Friday in his first leading role since 2015, many still miss his work with his creative partner.

Will Ferrell's new movie The House opens this Friday. This shouldn't be much of a surprised to anyone who's seen one of Ferrell's countless talk show and late night appearances the past few weeks, bringing his trademark absurdist humor along with him on every stop of the press tour. Game for anything, his achievements have run the gamut from insulting Seth Meyers in a "clearing the air" session to giving a straight-faced interview in full tiger face-paint on Conan and "confessing" to fathering an illegitimate child. To put it plainly, Ferrell's fearless comic sensibilities are perfectly utilized in these environments normally reserved for cookie-cutter spiels from artists on their latest projects. The Ferrell that can play off these late night comedians is the same one at the center of his most successful projects, unmoored and free to embrace his anarchic comedy sensibilities. It's the exact kind of Ferrell performance that has been all too rare on the big screen in recent years.

Kevin Winter- Getty Images

Ferrell's comedic filmography can generally be divided into two different camps, the projects directed by Ferrell's longtime creative partner Adam McKay and the ones helmed by less accomplished comedy directors. The films in the former category include almost all of Ferrell's most celebrated films including Anchorman, Step Brothers, and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, while the latter features far more generic comedies like The Campaign, Daddy's Home and Get Hard. And while Ferrell is capable in any project of enlivening the blandest of characters, there are few director-star pairings with as cohesive a dynamic as his with McKay. The two have created some of the most memorable comic set pieces of the 2000's from Talladega Night's extended family dinner scene to Step Brother's operatic finale, thanks in part to these projects' free-wheeling (and often improvised) style. Yet concealed by jokes on Sex Panther cologne and forbidden drum sets are stories that function as wry commentaries on sexism to the 2008 economic collapse. While other directors may have managed to guide Ferrell to laughs, McKay has collaborated with him to create endearing and memorable examinations of our national culture.

Dan MacMedan- Getty Images

It's the success of the McKay-Ferrell duo that has unfortunately cost fan from getting more collaborations from them in recent years. Since

Anchorman: The Legend Continues arrived to generally positive notices in 2013, McKay has gotten the opportunity to stretch his legs as a dramatic filmmaker with his acclaimed work writing and directing 2015's The Big Short, netting himself an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. And just like that McKay has found himself an in-demand director, leaving Ferrell to find new collaborators, while the two remain partners in their production company, Gary Sanchez Productions. And while it's hard to fault McKay for finding deserved success, it's hard not to miss the way he and Ferrell could deliver belly laughs in the most unexpected of settings. Only time can tell when we'll next get the chance to see these comedic masters combine forces again, but in a world whose political landscape continues to move further into the absurd, I'll be hoping it happens sooner than later.



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With Han Solo stand-alone directors fired, what's next for the film?

SONY facing backlash for releasing edited streaming versions of films

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With Han Solo stand-alone directors fired, what's next for the film?

FILM | Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are leaving the project, but where does the film currently stand?

In a shocking development, Lucasfilm has parted ways with the 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie directors during filming.

To anyone who felt a disturbance in the force last night, you're not going crazy. In a shocking development Lucasfilm announced that next year's Han Solo spinoff film has lost it's directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The news was announced in a joint statement on starwars.com reading:

The Untitled Han Solo film will move forward with a directorial change.
"Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it's become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we've decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon," said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm.
"Unfortunately, our vision and process weren't aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren't fans of the phrase 'creative differences' but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew," stated Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
The untitled Han Solo film remains scheduled for a May 2018 release.

Lord and MillerFrazer Harrison/BAFTA LA- Getty Images

Now Lord and Miller's exit has left several questions as to what's next for this latest chapter in the mega-franchise. While directors sign on and drop blockbuster films all the time (DC's Flash movie has already lost it's director twice), the uniqueness of the situation is no limited to being a part of the juggernaut that is the Star Wars Universe. While directors typically depart early in a film's production or shooting process, the film has been fully cast with Alden Ehrenreich taking over for Harrison Ford and big names like Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover in the ensemble, and has been filming in London since February. With Lucasfilm insistent the movie will still be finished in time to arrive in theaters 11 months from now, its unlikely the project will start over from scratch, but what direction might the project go in finding new directors?

EhrenreichBen A Pruchnie- Getty Images

Rumors currently suggest Lucasfilm's top choice to take the reins on the project is Ron Howard, the Oscar winning veteran behind Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and some of the best deadpan narration in TV history. The expectation would be that Howard's experience and leadership could help prevent the project from spiraling into chaos, though no one currently knows the director's interest level in the project. Another name that's been mentioned is the film's prolific co-writer Lawrence Kasdan who's also directed films including The Big Chill and Silverado, but has not been behind the helm of a project of this stature in many years.

Still, despite the unusualness of the situation this is not the first time in recent years the series has found itself forced to adjust itself on the fly. Last year's smash Rogue One underwent extensive reshoots, with writer Tony Gilroy taking over duties for the film's credited director Gareth Edwards. Still it's hard not to mourn Lord and Miller's vision for the film, especially given their reputations as two of the most inventive and irreverent filmmakers currently at work. All we can do now is hope whoever is brought on will take the work they've left behind and turn it into the best film possible.

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SONY facing backlash for releasing edited streaming versions of films

MOVIES | The company's "Clean Version" debuted last week to much controversy from directors

Hollywood directors are up in arms over Sony's attempts to release edited versions without their consent.

Sony has unveiled a new strategy to release its films and many in the film industry are forking pissed about it. The studio has found itself at the center of controversy for a new plan to offer edited "clean" versions of its films on platforms like iTunes and Fandango Now. The thought behind the idea, simply called Clean Version, seems pretty understandable from the company's perspective, specifically creating versions of these films capable of appealing to more family oriented customers who wouldn't risk exposing younger viewers to mature material, including profanity, violence, and sexual references or content. Included on this initial list of films receiving the clean treatment are Sony's previously released Spider-Man films, the original Ghostbusters films, Easy A, and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Despite the clever idea, the proposed plan has gotten Sony in hot water over their attempt to seemingly bypass the films director's in this strategy .The Directors Guild of America (or DGA) quickly released a statement saying: "Directors have the right to edit their feature films for every non-theatrical platform, plain and simple. Taking a director's edit for one platform, and then releasing it on another — without giving the director the opportunity to edit — violates our Agreement." While edited versions of films already for formats including airplane viewing and on broadcast television, the statement explains Sony cannot simply use these versions for home video release without first getting the director's consent.

Beyond the Guild itself, artists have been vocal against the decision with Judd Apatow (a producer on Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, also featured on Sony's list) tweeting out, "This is absolute bullshit and @sony and @SonyPictures is gonna get hell for FUCKING with our movies.Shove the clean versions up your asses!" While less graphic, Apatow collaborator Seth Rogen shared similar sentiments tweeting, "Holy shit please don't do this to our movies. Thanks."

Michael Buckner- Getty Images

So what does this all mean exactly? Well as Salon writer Gabriel Bell points out, while the move may appear initially to be about censoring artist's work, it's more about a home video market that's moving more towards streaming. With cord cutting becoming more and more normalized, Sony is trying to adjust for an entertainment landscape where families no longer tune in for the existing sanitized TV versions of these movies. Yet, while Sony's intentions may not be strictly rooted in moral arguments, it is vital that artists' work is protected from being altered or manipulated without their consent. Just because the film industry continues to shift in the streaming landscape, directors should not be forced to relinquish the rights they've earned thanks to the efforts of The DGA.

With Sony's Clean Version launching just last week, it will be important to see both whether streaming families actually choose to seek these versions out over movies originally designed for families, as well as whether The DGA will take legal action against Sony. If the latter course of action comes to pass, don't be surprised if the battle over Clean Version gets pretty dirty.


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