Tag Archives: Christian Bale

Failed Movies Make the Best Broadway Musicals

 

So what do you do with a movie that fails at the box office? Why not make it into a Broadway Musical! It’s actually fitting that one of the most popular of these is a film about making a bomb, that just happens to turn out to be a big hit…The Producers.Producers

In 1967, Mel Brooks wrote and directed The Producers, starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Kenneth Mars also has a great role in the film, I wrote about it in another blog, you can ready that here… The film initially was not very well liked, people didn’t know what to make of it. Actress Estelle Winwood said about the film – “Oh, that dreadful picture. I can’t bear to watch it, even on a small television. I must have needed the money – living in Hollywood weakens one’s motives. It reminds me of the saying that nobody ever went broke underestimating the American public’s taste.”ProducersLaneBroderick

Regardless, years later when Mel Brooks was considering adapting one of his movie into a play he decided to adapted The Producers as a Broadway stage musical and it opened at the St James Theater in April 2001, with Nathan Lane as Bialystock and Matthew Broderick as Bloom. The renowned musical went on to run for 2502 performances and won a record-breaking 12 Tony awards. A new movie which included Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick was released in 2005, but that one didn’t fare too well either. It’s better as a stage play.victor_victoria

Another one to take the stage was Victor Victoria. Originally written and directed by Blake Edwards in 1982, starring James Garner, Julie Andrews and Robert Preston, the movie did not do well. We absolutely loved the film, however. It’s well suited for the transition to stage, as it’s about a struggling female soprano who finds work playing a male female impersonator, but it complicates her personal life. Robert Preston is just amazing in the film and really steals the show with his musical number at the end of the movie. Robert Preston did the final musical number in one take, which explains why he was so clearly out of breath, physically stressed, and sweating profusely during the second half of the number. So it’s very easy to see it transferred to Broadway.Victor-Victoria-Play

In 1995, Blake Edwards decided to transfer the movie to Broadway and convinced his wife Julie Andrews to reprise her role. The hit Broadway musical Victor Victoria opened at the Marquis Theater on October 25, 1995 and ran for 734 performances. Liza Minnelli substituted for Julie Andrews while she was on vacation and Raquel Welch took over for her when she left the show.xanadu

In 1980, Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck and Gene Kelly starred in the box office bomb, Xanadu. Again, we loved the movie but it was a huge fail. Famously received the one sentence review: “In a word, Xana-don’t”. I think the main problem is that MTV ruined that movie. What I mean by that is, it’s totally designed to be a musical, but MTV was so popular at the time that they put all the musical numbers into the music, with none of the characters actually singing the songs. It’s just in the background and designed as like music video numbers scattered throughout the film. They dance plenty, but they never really sing.  When I ask people about the movie, it’s funny that people don’t realize that no one in the film ever really sings any of the songs until the end of the movie when Olivia is on stage at the roller rink.  The Broadway stage version opened at the Helen Hayes Theater on July 10, 2007, and ran for 512 performances. It was nominated for the 2008 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Book.spamalot

One of the most unusual film-to-Broadway adaptations would have to be Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In 1975, the Monty Python’s Flying Circus cast wrote and directed a small independent film called Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It did fairly well at the box office but really achieved cult status on video and DVD. It’s a very funny but strange film. The theatrical release contains 527 jokes, including 42 in the opening credits, for an average of one joke every 10.5 seconds. According to Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones got the directing job because they were the only ones who were interested in it. The movie was adapted as a Broadway musical in 2006 called Spamalot. The Broadway play was a huge hit. The original 2005 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, won three Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical of the 2004–2005 season and received 14 Tony Award nominations. During its initial run of over 1,500 performances it was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million.newsies_musical_main-logo

Newsies was another musical disaster for Disney initially, but managed to make for a very fine Broadway play.  It was directed by Kenny Ortega, who would head up the very successful High School Musical series a few years later. (High School Musical, being way too successful to consider making into a Broadway play has never made the transition…) Newsies was released in 1992 with pre-Batman Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Ann-Margret  and Robert Duvall. At the time, this was one of the lowest grossing live action movies in Walt Disney studio history. The movie was a critical and commercial flop upon its initial theatrical release. However, it gathered a cult following after its home video release, eventually made its filming budget back on rentals, and was deemed popular enough to be adapted into a stage musical, which premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey in 2011. The musical had music and lyrics by Alan Menken (who composed the movie’s music as well) and Jack Feldman (the movie’s lyricist), and a new book by playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein. This musical moved to Broadway in March 2012 and closed over two years later; a North American tour also launched in 2014. The show went on to earn eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, winning Best Choreography and Best Original Score.Harispray

Now, Hairspray is another very unusual adaptation as the first movie in 1988 directed by John Waters was not a hit, but did moderately well and found cult status on Video and DVD, then was adapted into a very successful Broadway Play and then again translated into a very successful movie in 2007. The original was not a musical, which tells me that certain stories just lend themselves very well to being told as musicals. Jerry Stiller, who plays Wilbur Turnblad in this film, also appears in Hairspray (2007) as Mr. Pinky. Remade on the Broadway stage in 2002 as a musical by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, starring Harvey Fierstein (and later, Bruce Vilanch, Michael McKean and John Pinette) in the role of Edna Turnblad (played in the film by Divine) and Marissa Jaret Winokur in the role of Tracy Turnblad (played in the film by Ricki Lake) The musical opened at the Neil Simon Theater on August 15, 2002 and ran for 2641 performances. It won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Musical. Adam Shankman directed the 2007 film with John Travolta playing Edna and Nikki Blonsky playing Tracy. With $27.5 million, this had the best opening ever for a movie musical until Mamma Mia! (2008).little shop of horrors

Another film-to-broadway-back-to-film adaptation is Little Shop of Horrors. Low budget Independent producer Roger Corman and Charles B. Griffith. The shooting schedule for this film was two days and one night because Roger Corman had made a bet that he could make a movie in two days. Charles B. Griffith took a little more than that to write it. A young Jack Nicholson has only a small part as Farb’s masochistic patient, Wilbur Force. But later, as the actor’s career began to take off, he was prominently featured on the home-video releases to help generate interest in the film. The film was remade as a successful stage musical in 1982, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman. (who would go on to do Disney’s The Little Mermaid and then many other successful animated musicals) The musical premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982 before moving to the Orpheum Theatre Off-Broadway, where it had a five-year run. It later received numerous productions in the U.S. and abroad, and a subsequent Broadway production. When it closed on November 1, 1987, after 2,209 performances, it was the third-longest running musical and the highest-grossing production in Off-Broadway history.little shop of horrors audrey seymour

Ellen Greene reprised her role from the play as Audrey in the 1986 movie of the musical. Frank Oz directed with Rick Moranis playing Seymour. Ellen Greene as Audrey (I) is the only member of the Off-Broadway cast to appear in this film. When she originated the role in 1982, it was her idea to wear a blond wig over her brunette curly hair. Howard Ashman originally saw Audrey as a brunette, based on Jackie Joseph’s look in the original The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).  The original script called for Audrey and Seymour to be eaten by Audrey II, just like in the stage play. Frank Oz reluctantly had it changed after negative reactions from test audiences. Oz claims that the difference between the success of the scene in the play and the same scene in the film is that there is no curtain call to remind the audience that the actors were okay.

 

Stunt Crew and The Dark Knight

 

Christopher Nolan, as in his previous movies, pushed his film crew to develop and perform the best stunts possible in order to avoid having to resort to CGI effects. One of the greatest stunts of these in The Dark Knight was a scene involving a moving eighteen-wheeler truck being completely flipped upside down. Initially, the special effects supervisor of the film, Chris Corbould, attempted to convince Nolan to use a smaller vehicle for the stunt, as this would make the attempt much easier. Nevertheless, Nolan insisted on using a full size eighteen-wheeler.Dark
The unforgettable semi-truck flip in the Dark Knight was completely real, driver (Jim Wilky) and all. A driver-operated canon-like contraption on the trailer blasted a two-ton steel battering ram against the pavement to flip the truck, resulting in an awe-inspiring cacophony of crushed steel and twisted metal. The stunt was actually practiced on an airstrip to ensure that the truck flipped straight, lest the buildings on either side be decimated with an off center crash.Dark kni
Because of the gravity of this scene, Christopher Nolan used several cameras to capture the stunt. He noted on the Blu-Ray commentary, “We covered it from I think seven different angles—4 IMAX cameras, 2 Vista Vision ones, a 35…I actually don’t like to use a lot of multi-cam setups, but doing a stunt that is not repeatable like this, you really have to cover yourself and make sure you’ve got it from all angles.”

In the final cut of the film, Nolan used two angles of the truck: a camera positioned on a separate vehicle moving along with the eighteen wheeler, and a camera located inside a cop car that was moving directly toward the truck. Nolan stated, “Much to our surprise we found this to be one of the most effective angles.”dark-knight-wide-just-how-different

The Dark Knight was directed by Christopher Nolan for Warner Bros.

Things to look up (go to IMDB page ):

  • Christopher Nolan
  • Christian Bale
  • Chris Corbould
  • Jim Wilky
Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!
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Actors and Stunt Performers in Batman Begins

 

Superhero movies are spun from the same fabric as the good old fashioned action-adventure films like Indiana Jones and James Bond, just with more costumes and EFX in the end to support the fantastic stunts. Arguably, they stock more types of stunts in these movies than any other type of film with High Falls, Fight Choreography, Car Chases, Big Jumps, Explosions and…I could go on and on and on.batman 23

What I love about this film is that the stunt team and the filmmakers wanted to go to a more grounded and realistic platform from which to work from. Much of Batman’s gear and apparel, including his cape and suit, is based on actual military technology and the stunts reflect this. The cast was used in the stunts and fight scenes as much as possible as well to keep things as real as possible. It’s funny, although Christian Bale performed many of his own stunts for the film, he wasn’t allowed anywhere near the Batmobile. Christian Bale had to perform 16 separate fights in the course of the film.

Up to this point in the movie industry, it was common practice to use a second unit for the action scenes. Director Christopher Nolan decided that there would be no second unit, and so for the whole of the one hundred and twenty nine shooting days Nolan oversaw every shot of the film personally. Christopher Nolan would generally shoot the fight scenes with the actors first. He would then shoot the same fight sequences with the stuntmen for coverage. Sometimes, it got quite scary, for example, when Christian Bale and Liam Neeson were fighting on the frozen lake they could hear the ice cracking beneath their feet. The next day, the lake was completely melted.batman

The Batmobile, 9 feet wide and 16 feet long, has a top speed of 106 miles per hour and can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6 seconds. The engine is a 5.7 liter V8 Chevy. It runs on unleaded gas and can do about 7 miles per gallon. It has four 44-inch tires at the rear, made by Interco Tire Corp, while the front is covered in jagged plates of armor. It was designed and built by Chris Corbould and Andrew Smith at Shepperton Studios in England. This Batmobile was built from the ground up and is estimated to be worth half a million pounds.batman-begins-the-tumbler (1)

It’s interesting to note that “Batman Begins” inspired James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccolli to reboot the James Bond franchise and reinventing the character of British secret agent James Bond and making him much darker and more realistic. You can thank this film for the Daniel Craig era of James Bond. Batman Begins was directed by Christopher Nolan for Warner Bros.

Things to look up (go to IMDB ):

  • Christopher Nolan
  • Liam Neeson
  • Christian Bale
  • Barbara Broccolli
  • Michael G. Wilson
  • Chris Corbould
  • Andrew Smith

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM