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Jake Kasdan, once known exclusively as a comedy director, is now playing in the big leagues. With just the right amount of nostalgia and newness, Kasdan turned Jumanji into one of the biggest modern franchises around. While the large scale and effects were initially new to him, he’s now growing comfortable working at that level.
Kasdan made his directorial debut with a sharp ’90s noir with a killer Bill Pullman performance, Zero Effect. It features a Pullman performance deserving of more love in this world. Kasdan followed his directorial debut with Orange County, The TV Set, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. During our phone interview with Kasdan, we recently talked about how Walk Hard has changed the biopics forever, how he’s grown as a filmmaker making the Jumanji movies, and the unfortunate state of the world at the moment.
Thanks for making the time.
Sure. Under the strangest of circumstances.
It is a weird time to be doing interviews.
[Laughs] Yes. I mean, yeah, it’s a weird time to just be going about your stuff, you know? It’s insane.
What’s like a Thursday or Friday for you like now? Any work still getting done?
I think everything is just sort of shutting down. It’s so crazy in so many different ways. On the one hand, I think especially for in the cities where people are conscious this is a great threat, they’re taking it seriously. It freaks everybody out. At the same time, very few people are directly close to it, so it’s somewhat abstract but freaky. Everyone is trying to follow the best advice, but it’s completely bizarre. It’s insane.
Such a strange time. Hey, be safe.
It’s nice to be talking to you, though. Funnily enough, I just revisited Orange County a week or two ago. Obviously, it was the first time you worked with Jack Black. What makes that relationship work?
In a lot of ways, that movie was important to me. It was the beginning of one of my all-time favorite collaborations, and it’s continued. We’ve gotten to work together closely and have had the best time doing these. In many ways, Orange County was really significant for me. Starting to work with Jack was one of the huge ways. Another huge way was working with Colin Hanks, and we’ve remained close. All those guys and I have remained very close to the last 20 years.
Have you noticed people who grew up with that movie are still very fond of it?
Oh, that’s good. I’m glad to hear that. It’s a movie that I love. Jack, Colin, and Schuyler, it was amazing. We had an amazing group of people surrounding them. It was an incredible experience. I mean, a bunch of brilliant comedy minds and directors. We got Ben Stiller to do a little thing in that movie, and...
The annual Annecy International Animation Film Festival, originally scheduled for June 15-20, has cancelled its 2020 edition given the current coronavirus pandemic. The event, which takes place each summer in the south east of France, will instead operate an online version with the lineup due to be announced April 15. While this would have been Annecy’s 60th anniversary, those celebrations will now be held next year.
Organizers said that “rationale and the international situation compel us to act with lucidity and responsibility. To show our respect and our deep gratitude to the health care providers, as well as all those who choose solidarity and the public interest. Annecy is a party, a ‘family gathering.’ We cannot bring ourselves to celebrate animation and our 60th anniversary when some amongst you would not be able to attend.” See full release below
Rather than postponing the festival to a later date, organizers decided to move online with further details to be disclosed on April 15. Annecy also operates a bustling market whose details will also be elaborated upon next week. The full program schedule will be revealed at the end of April.
A planned tribute to African animation as well as the 60th anniversary festivities will be moved to 2021 when the festival and market are due to take place from June 14-19.
Other international events that are normally held in June and which have been cancelled or postponed include the Cannes Lions conference and the CineEurope exhibition convention. The latter is currently scheduled for August.
Here’s the full memo from Annecy:
It is with tremendous disappointment that we are resigned to cancelling the Annecy 2020 edition.
Over the past few weeks, driven by our passion and our enthusiasm, despite the confinement constraints we were nevertheless hoping to maintain the exceptional edition that we had in store for you. We were so looking forward to greeting you as we do every year in June, in Annecy, the animation film capital of the world.
But today, the rationale and the international situation compel us to act with lucidity and responsibility. To show our respect and our deep gratitude to the health care providers, as well as all those who choose solidarity and the public interest.
Annecy is a party, a “family gathering”. We cannot bring ourselves to celebrate animation and our 60th anniversary when some amongst you would not be able to attend.
We took the decision not to move the Festival to a later date. The necessary facilities and the regular events' calendar, as well as scheduled postponements of other events, do not provide us with a reasonable option.
For several weeks, our founding members, partners, suppliers, professionals and creators have been sending us their full...
Week three of no theatrical releases. That will technically change soon — Universal’s premium VOD-opening “Trolls World Tour” has a handful of still-open drive-ins to play don’t expect any grosses reported. But it was a week full of important stories, with particular interest in a series of release date adjustments. However, no date can be realized if theaters aren’t open, and nobody knows when that will be.
• Exhibitor trade organization NATO held a webinar Friday. President John Fifthian raised hope that some theaters might be open by late May or early June. AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron, who oversees the most screens in North America reiterated his hopes for mid-June.
• With the COVID-19 still in its early stages of national spread, uncertainty about the curve flattening, and signs that in China, which had the earliest outbreaks three months ago, that viral decline doesn’t equal viral defeat, the reality is it could be weeks before anyone can make a reasonable assessment on reopening.
• Countering industry optimism that after weeks indoors, people will flock to theaters is a survey by Performance Research about public attitudes on return to public events. It saw 49 percent of respondents saying feeling safe about returning to theaters ranged from in a few months to never, with 28 percent saying if they do return, it will be less often. That said: This is a snapshot taken nearly two weeks ago, and shouldn’t be considered predictive. It showed similar or worse results for sporting events, concerts, and theme parks.
• Sports league executives spoke with President Trump, who urged resumption as soon as possible. However, Dr. Alan Sills, chief medical officer for the NFL, cautioned it is premature to believe that football can return this fall. Governors in some states that aren’t fully shut down, like Nebraska, encouraged voluntary compliance — with the threat that if the virus isn’t contained, their ardent fans might not have a season. Sports, of course, demand close player and spectator contact, and are more vulnerable even than theaters to the ongoing threat of contagion. But the idea that it is conceivable the country could have a year with no more sports is even more shocking than disruption to theaters.
• The key takeaway from multiple studio release schedule changes is, in re-dating titles, they don’t expect theaters to be fully operational until July at the earliest. Though key June and July titles like Pixar’s “Soul” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” remain in those months, “Mulan” on July 24 is the earliest rescheduled date for any major title. Other date changes act as a diversion while theaters are closed, but the reality is everything is written in pencil, not pen.
It looks like Jumanji 4 is going to happen. Director Jake Kasdan has revealed that early development started on the sequel before the recent Hollywood shutdown that is expected to last at least a few more weeks, if not longer. Whenever things do return to some semblance of normalcy, it seems this movie is going to be on Sony's priority list.
Jake Kasdan was recently interviewed in honor of Jumanji: The Next Level hitting home video. During the conversation, the filmmaker who helmed both of the recent installments in the series, was asked about the seemingly inevitable fourth entry. Here's what Kasdan had to say about it.'We're just starting to talk about all of that, and the truth is we've barely started. We were just getting into the conversation before this global calamity and we will re-engage it as soon as everybody's settled. We all love working together and we've loved making these. To me, the thing that's always been most critical when talking about a sequel, first in the first movie and now in the possibility of another sequel is, it would have to be exciting on its own two feet in a way that's comparable to what the first two were for me. I would have to love the idea just as much. So I think there will be a third one and it's just the earliest days of trying to figure out what that would be.'
While things seem to be in the earliest days, it seems like Jake Kasdan is happy to return should the project get the green light. Kasdan also recently hinted that he expects the core cast to return, which includes Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart. The ending of The Next Level put some pieces in play that left the door wide open for Jumanji 4, while also changing up the formula that was the driving force behind the more recent movies.
At this point, it's hard to imagine a world in which this movie doesn't get made. The movie business is facing an uncertain future, but studios will be more motivated than ever to proceed with surefire bets. 2017's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a massive blockbuster surprise, bringing in $962 million at the global box office. Last year's follow-up did similarly well, taking in $796 million. Both movies were, generally speaking, met with open arms by critics and audiences.
Taking all of that into account, this seems like a no-brainer. It could just come down to logistics. The main cast members are all very busy people, so scheduling is tricky. There's also the matter of sorting everything out once it's safe for studios to resume regular production schedules. It may be a while before that happens, but whenever it does, expect Sony to get back to work on this one. Jumanji: The Next Level is available now on Digital HD, Blu-ray/DVD and 4K Ultra HD. This news comes to us via Collider.