“One for them, one for me” might be a cliché in Hollywood, but it’s easier said than done these days. For every filmmaker who get the chance to play in a sandbox of their own invention in-between tentpoles (Example: James Wan), there are countless others who seem to get sucked up into the “corporate machine” Daniel Kwan (sorta) joked about, much like the alien’s victims in Jordan Peele’s “Nope.” Peele himself has said he would prefer to avoid “pre-existing material” in favor of directing “original stuff.” However, one suspects he, too, is wary of being pulled into the “corporate machine,” when reading between the lines of his UFO thriller.
It all comes down to studios refusing to hire filmmakers for anything but IP projects. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (“Something in the Dirt”) successfully injected “Moon Knight” with a welcome dose of strangeness, to which Disney and Marvel responded by … hiring them to helm “Loki” season 2. Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (“Kon-Tiki”) steered “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” into port, so the House of Mouse entrusted Rønning with “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” Even Tim Burton, who’s delivered multiple hits over 40 years of collaborating with Disney, has grown disillusioned with the company, calling it “a horrible big circus.”
Disney’s far from the only guilty party in this situation. Has Universal ever really considered letting Justin Lin make anything other than “Fast & Furious” sequels since he broke out with “Better Luck Tomorrow”? Will Paramount allow John Krasinski to work on something unrelated to “A Quiet Place” anytime soon? Does Sony intend to work with Adil & Bilall on a project other than a “Bad Boys” sequel? Pardon my cynicism, but I think we all know the answer.