Following his collaboration with Jordan Peele on the Oscar-winning Get Out, supervising sound editor Trevor Gates reteamed with the director on Us, an ogether different kind of horror film, centered on terrifying doppelgängers of Peele's invention.
Following the Wilsons—a family whose vacation in Santa Cruz goes terribly awry, when their doppelgängers arrive to confront them—the pic introduced a mythology for those known as The Tethered, who are forced to live a life of misery underground, as their counterparts move about the world normally and happily, with no knowledge of their existence.
An incredibly inventive and cinematic horror film, centered around the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk—with its carnival games, screaming roller coaster riders and nearby ocean— Us was a dream project for any artist working in sound. With Peele's second film, Gates brought into the fold two veteran re-recording mixers—Oscar winner Doug Hemphill and two-time nominee Ron Bartlett—who were every bit as excited as Gates about the sonic possibilities to be found with this project.
“Ron and Trevor and I have worked with a lot of filmmakers, and with Jordan, the thing that amazed me so much was, he had the courage, which he always does, to say, 'With this film, what you're going to walk away with is something inside you. I'm not going to tell you how to feel or what to think, but you're going to walk away with something I brought out inside you,'” Hemphill shares. “And I felt the same way with us, as sound artists. He brought out things in us that were remarkable.”
When the mixers came aboard the film, “We all sat there and looked at each other like, 'Oh my God, this has so many things to it, and creative avenues to explore,'” Bartlett recalls. “One of the best parts about working with Jordan is that he allows you to bring your creativity in on it, and expects you to bring your A-game and lift the film, in ways maybe he didn't even think of.”
In comparison to Get Out, Us offered Gates the chance to work with a much more expansive sonic palette. The challenge, for the sound editor and his mixers, was to strike the right balance with the sonic palette they devised—getting under people's skin, while remaining naturalistic and grounded, in the sounds they brought to the pic.
DEADLINE: Trevor, what was your reaction when you were approached with Us?
TREVOR GATES: I did Get Out with Jordan a couple of years prior, so this was what I call 'a privileged callback.' We had a really good time on Get Out. Jordan really enjoyed the time that we worked together, and the work that I did, so when he called Formosa [Group] to locate where I was, he reached out, and that was a very cool feeling, to be able to continue this relationship with Jordan. He's such a great dude and such an awesome filmmaker, so I was very excited to be able to get back into the trenches with him, and part of the deal that we put together was me being able to hang out with Ron Barlett and Doug Hemphill on this one. That was also very exciting to me, because I'm kind of a new kid on the block, in the grand scheme of things, and I was going to have a really great opportunity to work with a couple of veterans who were also both very cool dudes, and just do fantastic work.
So, I initially watched the film and I was pretty affected by it, internally. It makes you want to think about all the things that you've just experienced, and I invited Ron and Doug to come view the movie with me over at Formosa on one of our mixing stages. We watched it together, and had an experience together.
DOUG HEMPHILL: One of the things about working with Jordan, as sound people who try to tell the story through sound is, we're feel guys. It's all about feeling it, and we don't want to overtly let the audience know what we're up to in the sound. We would rather the audience feel it as well, and Jordan is absolutely one of those people. We all spoke the same language. We would roll through entire scenes and mix stuff live for him, which is challenging, but so productive, because you're literally all audience, when you're rolling at 90 feet a minute through a scene, responding with your feelings. Jordan is absolutely at the pinnacle of that craft. He's definitely a feel guy.
Because of Trevor's work, and how Trevor had prepared tracks, when Ron and I would mix, we would try to create a vibe or a feeling that was appropriate within the story. Sometimes, we would hit it, or it would be in a direction that maybe Jordan wasn't thinking of going. But it was all totally collaborative, the whole way through the mix. It was just such a pleasure, and such a provocative film, obviously. I think art is meant to provoke, and certainly this film, when I first saw it with Ron, I was so flabbergasted, I said, “I have to see it again. I have to listen to it again.” I couldn't absorb it all.
You know, we're audience, the same as the audience who watched the film. We just happened to be able to mix the film, or cut sound for it. But ultimately, we're always thinking about the audience. We, too, are audience members, and when we got to the fourth act, Jordan is such a powerful filmmaker, we switched up the end of the film dramatically, and remixed it in I'd say a couple of hours. And I've very, very happy with how it ended up. It has a delicacy to it that I think is beautiful.
DEADLINE: That's interesting given that famously, Peele totally reworked his ending for Get Out, as well.
GATES: Yeah. As many filmmakers do, Jordan had a journey of exploration of this storytelling, and through the process of filmmaking, there's decisions that need to be made, through understanding how people receive information, and how the story develops. So, he made some changes and reshot some things, and it definitely was a challenge in the 11th hour, changing the composition of how this film ends.
What's really cool about working with Jordan is that he really empowers the creative talent around him. So, whether it was the opening of the film or the ending, Jordan's like, “Hey, I want it to feel like this,” and Ron, Doug and I would look at each other, and follow our instincts. That was such an exciting time, to be able to go through all those changes, and even through the initial creation of the entire film, being able to really tell this story through feeling. Sometimes, it's subtle. Sometimes, it's not so apparent, but what we're trying to do is kind of getting under the skin of people, sonically.
DEADLINE: When you first saw the film, what were some of the elements that you were most excited to tinker with, on a sonic level?
GATES: One of the toughest sonic landscapes that we crafted was in the beginning of the film. It had a metamorphosis, and it took not only me and my team building stuff, but also really embracing Ron and Doug's vision on how to craft this experience that makes you feel really messed up inside, but you really just don't know why. That was one of the challenges. I mean, there are lots of things. There's many, many layers to this film, and we really tried to embrace the idea of duality throughout, because it was an important part of the characters, of the plot.
We really wanted to embrace that from a sonic standpoint, so we ended up melding sounds from different parts of the film into specific parts—like, Whac-A-Mole and breaking-down engines had similar sounds that were used, and escalators and Whac-A-Mole sounds would blend together at the end. Haunting crickets that sound like classic horror scores, but are just crickets...
RON BARTLETT: The thing I loved that Jordan loves to bring is a subtlety with purpose. So, the whole beginning walk [on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk] has subtle, different shifts and changes throughout, but it has a real purpose of tone. Like, it's bringing something to boil, but very slowly. It's simmering, and it gets hotter and hotter throughout the film. In the beginning, it's like, “Oh, it's a carnival. It's great. It's a nice place to be.” Then, that slowly starts to shift, and you're like, “There's something wrong here.” You just don't know what that is, and it's unnerving. It's in such a subtle way, but it has such a driving purpose throughout the film.
DEADLINE: Could you break down the layers we hear in the film's opening on the boardwalk, with its carnival atmosphere, and the Vision Quest funhouse space a young Adelaide walks into, in a fateful moment?
HEMPHILL: I remember having a discussion briefly with Trevor about, “Screams at a carnival aren't that different than screams when people are terrified,” and that was a little motif I liked. Because you expect to hear people screaming at a carnival. But at the same time, in this context, it can be a little unnerving.
BARTLETT: What I loved is that the rack focus that we used with sound will point to certain things that move you in a direction. You start to lose some of the dialogue between the mom and dad a little bit, and then you focused in on what the child is actually paying more attention to when she's walking. Things like that really shift your sensibility.
GATES: When we started building some of these things, we tried a couple of different things, but what I really wanted to do was build a foundation of naturalistic sound that could potentially feel horrific, and it was all about specificity. It was all about being articulate in the moment, but giving a certain weight to the sounds you're feeling—like, the roller coaster dropping, or the waves crashing—creating this full-frequency spectrum to sounds that really make you feel the feelings. Then also, the screams—we took screams from roller coaster rides, and then also screams of horror, and mixed them together and did a doppler thing, so they modulate.
Really, it was about being able to be specific and very rich at the same time, so that you really felt what we were going to experience. Then, handing it over to Ron and Doug and watching them weave the tapestry was really fantastic.
DEADLINE: The relationship between sound design, score and music supervision on this film is really unique. Early on, for example, the Luniz song “I Got 5 On It” plays in the film as is. The track then becomes something of a musical motif for Us, with its melody becoming a part of the film's score. How did all of the film's sonic elements end up coming into such tight alignment?
BARTLETT: That's a real signature thing that Doug and I do, is blending sound design with music. You can never quite tell what's what sometimes, and that's the whole purpose: It's so of one nature that you go through the film not distracted by one or the other. They're blended in a way that takes you through the film like a breadcrumb trail, and they're all woven together. I love doing that, and it's a great feel because it's very organic to the film, to the story.
There's so many different elements and ways to get in and out of that, whether we're using different reverbs or delays, and outboard gear, and all that kind of stuff. They're all just tools to our palette, [which] we use like colors on a painting, so we try to blend those that are complementary and do really cool transitions. Transitions from scene to scene are a big deal, how you feel from one to the next, and like Doug said, we're audience members. We do things that we think sound cool; that's the bottom line.
With the deconstructed “5 On It,” that whole idea came from the trailer that they did. That had some of that idea in there, so then we took that idea and made it more elaborate. But it's the same concept, where it's partly score, part of the song, and it's all cut up into little pieces. So, when I got that, it was all these short, cut pieces that I had to blend together to make into one solid concept, from beginning to end. Because it's a fairly long sequence, where [Lupita Nyong'o's Adelaide] goes down into the underground, until the end, and it was so much fun. I really went a little over the top, which I liked, because it was very dramatic at the end, when they're fighting. It was a big sequence that we had tried a few different ways, and I think definitely the one we ended up with was far better than any of the others.
HEMPHILL: When we did the NWA song [“F*ck tha Police”] at Josh and Kitty's house, again, we were going for a certain base of reality, and Ron stood up and did something so cool. I just love it, to this day.
BARTLETT: We were playing around with different reverbs and things, trying to make it sound like that house. We wanted to tie it into the whole house system, so I took those tracks home with me and played it through my stereo system, and then mic'ed my whole house. I had some right in the living room, some in the hallway, some down in the kitchen, so I could go between those different mics and create exactly that feel. Like, when they go upstairs, around the corner, you feel that shift, and it's all real acoustics. It's not just a reverb slapped on top.
DEADLINE: How did you find your way to sounds that felt right for Red, in terms of the spoken and unspoken ways in which she communicates?
GATES: Some of the intermittent communication between the mother and the family, on the [Tethered] side, the inception came from Jordan early on. That communication is very minimal, and Lupita gave a great performance on those sounds specifically, so from a creation standpoint, we really leaned into some of the sounds that were performed on the day. As far as Lupita's voice [as Red], we tried a couple of different things. We really wanted to lean into a damaged vocal cord from being strangled, so we did some really interesting things on the creative side, prior to the mix.
I bought a contact stethoscope microphone, and recorded some sounds directly from the throat, and in the end, it was just a little too much. From a design standpoint, it didn't seem organic, and one of the things that Jordan said is, “Look, as we're going through the sound for this film, if you ever feel like you're teetering on the side of sci-fi, you've gone one step too far.” We really wanted to keep it in the horror genre. So, the sound for Lupita, I'll credit to two people—it's both Lupita's performance and Ron's mixing. He did a lot of work to really bring out the textures of this performance, and really make it intelligible and focused. We tried a bunch of stuff, but in the end, the minimal and naturalistic approach was the winner, and it really wouldn't have gotten there without Ron digging in as hard as he did on the mix.
BARTLETT: The first time we played it, it was like, Wow, what a performance that Lupita gave. I didn't want to mess with it too much, or go too far with it, and Jordan didn't want to go there either. But I really dug into details with every syllable. Some of the clicking and the raspy throat, I brought those elements out more, and I went syllable by syllable, making sure you could understand what she was saying, because it was a little difficult at first. She gave such a dynamic performance that you need to bring certain syllables and elements out, so that you can get it, as a storyline. It's meticulous work, but it had such a great payoff.
At the beginning of the Netflix documentary Tell Me Who I Am a British man takes a seat in front of the camera and calmly describes a mystery.
“I don't know who I am,” he says evenly. “Not just the story of who I am, but really who I am. The real me.”
For Alex Lewis these words are not an exaggeration or metaphorical, but literal. At the age of 18—as we come to understand in the film directed by Ed Perkins—Lewis sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident. He emerged from a coma with no memory of his previous life.
“I didn't even know my own name,” he shares. “Everything had gone.”
Everything but one important detail. He recognized the 18-year-old young man at his hospital bedside as his twin brother Marcus.
“Even though I wasn't sure of what was going on around me,” he observes, “I knew a hundred percent that he was my brother and I could trust him.”
“It's such an extraordinary opening premise for a story,” Perkins tells Deadline. “And that's just the starting point for this film.”
Alex's quest to regain his memory takes the twins—and viewers along with them—down an ever darkening path into deep family secrets. With no memory of his own, Alex relied on his brother to reconstruct every aspect of his past—what they had done as kids, who their friends were, what their parents were like. Marcus painted an idyllic picture of a happy childhood, which couldn't have been further from the truth.
Clues that something might be amiss surfaced some time after Alex returned home from the hospital. The Lewis's lived on a sprawling property in the English countryside, but despite the spacious quarters the twins were confined to a shed. They weren't allowed keys to the manor house or access to their father's inner sanctum.
“He's at his own section so that he has his own drawing room, his own study, his own staircase to get to his own bedroom,” Marcus explains to Deadline. “And you wouldn't ever go in there.”
“We were very frightened,” Alex adds. “He was a very scary man, for everybody he met.”
Their mother, too, was eccentric, a tall, gregarious woman with an intimidating aspect. After their parents' deaths, as the twins were cleaning out the house, they came across something locked in their mother's cupboard that would explode the myth of the idealized upbringing Marcus had spun for his brother. It was a mutilated photo of the twins as boys, strongly suggesting psychological and sexual abuse. Finding the picture forced Marcus to acknowledge the devastating past he had kept hidden from his brother.
Alex and Marcus explored their story of trauma in a 2013 memoir. It was reading about the book that first inspired Perkins to make his documentary.
“I'd read an article in a British paper and reached out,” Perkins recalls. The twins agreed to do the film, only to have second thoughts. “There were a number of times when when you guys gave me a call and said, 'I'm really sorry, but we can't do this. We don't want to make this film. It's going to be too difficult.'''
Perkins, who earned an Oscar nomination earlier this year for his short documentary Black Sheep, says he wanted to create an environment where the Lewis brothers felt safe to share what they had gone through, if they ultimately decided to go forward.
“The most important thing was that these guys knew that they were in control at every stage,” he comments. “These guys have full agency to tell their story in their words at their pace.”
Years would pass before the cameras finally rolled.
“In a way that five-year gestation period it took to make the film, perhaps the best thing to come out of that was we were able to get to know each other really well and build a relationship of trust,” Perkins notes. “That allowed them to feel comfortable in the room talking in a way that I think it's fair to say you haven't talked before.”
The brothers' hesitation had something to do with the fact that there were more family secrets to reveal beyond what was in their memoir—revelations Marcus had yet to share with Alex. They say the process has been a healing one for them. And emotional for viewers of Tell Me Who I Am, the brothers say, to judge from responses they've received beginning with the film's world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.
“Once we started meeting the audience and meeting people, then we suddenly realized that we'd made something bigger than we thought we had,” Alex says. “And the impact on other people, just in the small amount of people that have seen it, has just been—“
“Phenomenal,” Marcus jumps in.
“More than I could have ever hoped for,” Alex adds.
There were times when Alex felt his brother's failure to tell him the truth about their past amounted to a betrayal. But now he sees it differently, feeling the rosy image Marcus concocted was meant to shield him from a horrible reality.
“I didn't realize that until right at the end of the movie,” Alex affirms. “I had never realized quite what he was carrying. All the enormity of the personal anguish that he had to do for me.”
“Albeit the film inevitably has to go to dark and complicated places, we've always talked about this story actually being a love story between twins,” Perkins observes. “About how their extraordinary relationship has allowed them to survive. And we hope that audiences leave this film feeling hopeful and inspired by what these guys have done, because to bare your soul in the way they have is incredible. And I think it's an enormous gift they're giving to people.”
Netflix has an after-Christmas present for fans of the Penn Badgley drama You.Season 2 of the former Lifetime series will premiere on December 26, exclusively on the streaming service. Check out the new key art below.
You follows bookstore manager Joe Goldberg Badgley. In the freshman season, which was based on Caroline Kepnes' bestselling novel and aired on Lifetime, Goldberg becomes obsessed with his customer Guinevere Beck Elizabeth Lail, using social media and the Internet to stalk her.
The show's sophomore run is based loosely on the author's second book in the series, titled Hidden Bodies, and will stream under the Netflix Originals banner. It will follow Goldberg to Los Angeles, where he meets Love Quinn Victoria Pedretti, an aspiring chef that isn't into social media like his previous leading lady.
James Scully and Jenna Ortega also have booked key roles in Season 2, with Ambyr Childers has been promoted to series regular and Carmela Zumbado joining as a regular. Chris D'Elia, Adwin Brown, Robin Lord Taylor, Marielle Scott , Melanie Field, Magda Apanowicz, Danny Vasquez and Charlie Barnett are set to recur in Season 2.
The series is produced by Berlanti Productions, Man Sewing Dinosaur and Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television. Berlanti, Gamble, Sarah Schechter, Leslie Morgenstein, Gina Girolamo and Marcos Siega are executive producers.
CBS has unveiled its early midseason schedule. It features two new drama series additions, FBI spinoff FBI: Most Wanted and Edie Falco starrer Tommy, as well as the returns of Criminal Minds for its 15th and final season and MacGyver for its fourth. CBS also has set a premiere date for the milestone 40th season of Survivor in February.
Missing from the lineup are new comedy Broke, starring Pauley Perrette and Jaime Camil; returning comedy Man with a Plan, starring Matt LeBlanc; and unscripted stalwart The Amazing Race. There will be scheduling news on them later in the season.
Like it has done with the NCIS and Criminal Minds franchises, CBS is launching spinoff FBI: Most Wanted behind the mothership series on Tuesdays, starting with the January 7 premiere.
To make room for FBI: Most Wanted in the post- FBI Tuesday 10 PM slot, NCIS: New Orleans will leave the night where it has aired since its September 2014 launch, at 9 PM for the first two seasons and at 10 PM since the start of Season 3. Now in Season 6, NCIS: New Orleans will move into the Sunday 10 PM time period which will become vacated when Madam Secretary finishes its 10-episode sixth and final season.
NCIS: New Orleans will make its Sunday debut on February 16, forming a two-hour 9-11 PM NCIS block with NCIS: Los Angeles, which airs at 9 PM on the night.
For the first time since the 2016-17 season, Undercover Boss will be used as a bridge program between the two cycles of Survivor. It will premiere January 8, leading to the two-hour Season 15 premiere of Criminal Minds. The veteran crime drama also will end its run with a two-hour series finale from 9-11 PM on February 19. Between the supersized bookends, Criminal Minds will air in its longtime Wednesday 9 PM slot where it had spent the first 12 seasons before shifting to 10 PM in fall 2017.
With its final run, Criminal Minds will temporary replace drama SEAL Team, which will return to the Wednesday lineup with a two-hour 9-11 PM episode on February 26.
The 40th season and 20th year of Survivor will debut with a special two-hour episode February. 12. The reality juggernaut will move to its regular Wednesday 8-9 PM time period February 19.
New cop drama Tommy starring Edie Falco will premiere February 6, taking over the Thursday 10 PM slot following the end of Evil, which is designed for 13-episode runs and already has been renewed for a second season.
Starting February 7, CBS will revert to the Friday lineup of the last three seasons of MacGyver at 8 PM, Hawaii Five-0 at 9 PM and Blue Bloods as the 10 PM anchor. Magnum PI, which currently airs at 9 PM following Hawaii Five-0, will go to the bench to make room for MacGyver. It will return with the remainder of its episodes once MacGyver finishes its season.
CBS' WINTER 2020 SCHEDULE
Tuesday, January 7
8-9 PM — NCIS 9-10 PM — FBI 10-11 PM- FBI: MOST WANTED Series Premiere
Wednesday, January 8
8-9 PM — UNDERCOVER BOSS Ninth Season Premiere 9-10 PM — CRIMINAL MINDS 2-Hour 15thSeason Premiere
Wednesday, January 15
8-9 PM — UNDERCOVER BOSS 9-10 PM — CRIMINAL MINDS Regular Time Period 10-11 PM — S.W.A.T.
Thursday, February 6
8-8:30 PM — YOUNG SHELDON 8:30-9 PM — THE UNICORN 9-9:30 PM — MOM 9:30-10 PM — CAROL'S SECOND ACT 10-11 PM — TOMMY Series Premiere
Friday, February 7
8-9 PM — MACGYVER Fourth Season Premiere 9-10 PM — HAWAII FIVE-0 New Time Period 10-11 PM — BLUE BLOODS
Wednesday, February 12
8-10 PM — SURVIVOR 2-Hour 40th Season Premiere 10-11 PM — CRIMINAL MINDS special time
Sunday, February 16
8-9 PM — GOD FRIENDED ME 9-10 PM — NCIS: LOS ANGELES 10-11 PM — NCIS: NEW ORLEANS New Time Period
Wednesday, February 19
8-9 PM — SURVIVOR Regular Time Period 9-11 PM — CRIMINAL MINDS 2-Hour Series Finale
About FBI: MOST WANTED
FBI: MOST WANTED stars Julian McMahon in a high-stakes drama that focuses on the Fugitive Task Force, which relentlessly tracks and captures the notorious criminals on the Bureau's Most Wanted list. Seasoned agent Jess LaCroix McMahon oversees the highly skilled team that functions as a mobile undercover unit that's always out in the field, pursuing those who are most desperate to elude justice. Roxy Sternberg, Nathaniel Arcand, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Kellan Lutz also star.
Dick Wolf, René Balcer, Arthur W. Forney and Peter Jankowski are executive producers for Wolf Entertainment and Universal Television in association with CBS Television Studios.
In TOMMY, a new series that's equal parts political, procedural and family drama, Edie Falco stars as a former high-ranking NYPD officer who becomes the first female Chief of Police for Los Angeles. A true blue New Yorker, Abigail “Tommy” Thomas Falco uses her unflinching honesty and hardball tactics to keep social, political and national security issues from hindering effective law enforcement in the Southland. Michael Chernus, Adelaide Clemens, Thomas Sadoski, Russell G. Jones, Olivia Lucy Phillip, Joseph Lyle Taylor and Vladimir Caamaño also star.
Paul Attanasio, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Tom Szentgyorgyi and Kate Dennis pilot only are executive producers for CBS Television Studios.
Jake Borelli Grey's Anatomy and newcomer Niko Terho lead the cast of The Thing About Harry,a Valentine's Day-themed road-trip movie from Freeform. Karamo Brown, Britt Baron and the film director Peter Paige also star in the romantic comedy, with production under way in Chicago for a February premiere.
Borelli will play Sam, a handsome, funny, neurotic, intelligent young gay man who combines a scathing wit with an overly idealistic worldview. Sam came out when he was still in high school, something that took a lot of courage in his small Missouri town, but was bullied constantly. Terho will portray Harry, an emotionally uncomplicated, promiscuous player who has always left a string of broken hearts in his wake. Under the surface, Harry actually yearns for love, family and stability, but the thought of commitment still terrifies him.
From left: Britt Baron, Karamo and Peter Paige ABC
Karamo Queer Eye will play Paul, an exceedingly well put-together yet overbearing and pretentious gay man. Baron GLOW, will play Stasia, Sam's edgy and opinionated best friend. Paige Queer as Folk returns to the screen as Casey, Sam's warm-hearted roommate, who always wants the best for Sam.
“It's been an honor to partner with Freeform in making great television with LGBTQ+ characters as leads,” The Thing About Harry executive producers Paige, Greg Gugliotta and F.J. Denny in a statement. “True equality can only be achieved when you see yourself reflected in the movies, music and stories that paint our culture. “As young gay men in the 90s, whenever a rom-com opened, we would watch the leading lady fall in love and imagine what it would be like if the boy was saying all those things to another boy. We've always wanted to make a movie — an unabashedly romantic comedy — that queer boys wouldn't have to translate. It's rewarding to take the genre to a new, all-inclusive level.”
GLAAD Report Reveals LGBTQ TV Representation At All-Time High
Warner Bros has set up a movie built around Rin Tin Tin, the venerable German Shepherd that once was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy in the 1920s, and appeared as the hero in 27 films. Hired to write is Matt Lieberman, who most recently scripted another dog tale for Warner Bros in the upcoming animated film Scoob, and who scripted the just released MGM animated film The Addams Family and Playing With Fire, and he is working on the animated Jetsons. He has upcoming the Shawn Levy-directed Ryan Reynolds-starrer Free Guy that Fox/Disney will be released next July.
Matt Lieberman Blair Raughley/Invision/MGM/AP Images
Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance American Sniper and Cats & Dogs will produce with the rights holders Sasha Jenson and Jeff Miller. The idea of a hero hound has gained credibility in the revelation that the dog Conan took part in the raid which resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 27. The dog chased al-Baghdadi down into a tunnel before al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest. The dog was hailed a hero by President Donald Trump, who awarded the dog a bronze paw print medal, the equivalent of a canine Medal of Honor for a dog that was injured in the mission.
The plan here is to reinvent Rin Tin Tin as a modern action star, the John Wick of dogs. Here, the hero is an elite military dog on a covert mission to prevent a large scale attack. The film will be live action.
The original Rin Tin Tin has a hero story all his own. Lee Duncan, an American soldier fighting in WWI, came upon a litter of German Shepherd puppies left to die on a bombed out field in France. Bred to serve the German Imperial Army, the pups were liberated by the soldier, who found homes for them and kept two for himself. One was Rin Tin Tin, which won dog shows and soon became a matinee idol. Warner Bros was just starting and the films became hugely popular in the silent era. Legend has it that the first Oscars eyed the pooch as first Best Actor winner before it was decided that wasn't good luck for the inaugural awarding of the Academy Awards. The Rin Tin Tin films were reliable hits, and saved Warner Bros from bankruptcy more than once, during the silent film era. He was a casualty of the talkies, though, when performances were suddenly embellished by voice, and well, Rin Tin Tin couldn't talk. The original dog died in 1932.
Lieberman is repped by Adam Kolbrenner's Lit Entertainment Group and attorney Melissa Rogal.