http://chud.com/nextraimages/harlancountyusa.jpegMainstream movies are getting interesting again! Sounds like it’ll be the Cloverfield trailer instead of Indy with Beowulf (though if it were both, dear sweet baby Jesus Shuttlesworth). But Paramount’s gonna want to stick Dr. Jones (who still has no time for love) with one of their own, even if people are going to be downloading it like a mother fucker.

Maybe Cloverfield

In fact, it’s got to be either that or The Spiderwick Chronicles. But I bet that it goes with Cloverfield to help cement the wunderkind status. How’s that sticking in your craw?

WHAT THE STRIKE MEANS TO YOU, THE CONSUMER

Strike talk, blah blah blah.

If you’re following the world of movies, you’ve heard a lot about this. On 10/31/07 at 11:59 P.M., the Writer’s Guild’s contract expired. Negotiations have been ongoing and the feds are involved, but currently, it looks like it’s happening momentarily (possibly by the time you’ve read this it will start, though the word is Monday) – as I write this we’re in the eye of the storm. The WGA are striking before the Directors and Actors and their contracts will also expire in 2008. The Writer’s Guild was hoping that they’d have some company (and may from the teamsters), but the other major guilds have not budged, and probably won’t. Because they are honoring their contracts. Supposedly.

For the writers this means that they can’t officially work on film and television. Animation, okay. Video games, no problem. Some people are trying to sneak around this (there’s some stuff being talked about what Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot have been doing on Lone Ranger, and that they might be scabbing. We shall see.) For more information on the strike, I talked to Drew “Moriarty” McWeeny, and he pointed the way to Craig Mazin’s blog The Artful Writer, which is a must-read if you’re into this side of the equation.

For people who just want to go to movies, trust me, the strike is a really bad thing, and you want it over as soon as possible. But the damage is already done. Remember 2000, 2001? Remember Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider? Remember Death to Smoochy? Well, most of the films made in late 2000-2001 were films that were put together in preparation for a strike (that didn’t happen). And so you got a 90 minute Jurassic Park film and Men in Black II, and a general sense of rushed and unfinished product.

As for the scripts, what Drew told me was that you can change a location, if you have to for budget or production reasons, or a line of dialogue or two (an “A through H” change), but that’s about it. You can edit but not add, and if you do, you’re going to be in the guild’s scope, which means a hefty, hefty fine – maybe kicked out, maybe shunned, again, it’ll be on the guild to decide. You better hope all those Apatow-produced films are as good as they’re going to get, or can sit around until the strike’s over, cause that whole methodology is predicated upon finding the material. Step-Brothers, reshoots on Forgetting Sarah Marshall… Fingers crossed.

The other big thing is this: If you’ve got dreams of making it as a screenwriter or director, of working in this industry on the creative end beyond bit parts, for the next year or so you’re pretty much fucked. Everything that is going to be made has been green-lit, and the studios have got their slates through 2009. They had to. What this also means is that developments will pretty much dry up for a while. You’re going to see more reports about trailers and reviews online then you will developments on Pirates 4, or The Incredible Hulk 2 - if that comes to pass. Even if the strike ends quickly (I doubt it will last six months, TV will create too much pressure), new cinema will take at least a year to build up steam again.

What you’ll also see (if the strike holds) are films that are stuck, that could have used a draft or two more, films that needed a ghost writer, stronger first acts, and all sorts of problems that just couldn’t be fixed, and weren’t. Or projects that were rushed into production on half a good idea. This was undoing of many of films of that 2000-2001 period.

On the plus side, you’ll probably also see someone like Michael Mann churn out something that you’ll be flummoxed to understand how it ever got through the system. Such comes with desperation.

But for the most part, as filmgoers, and filmlovers, expect to bend over for a while.

SAW YOU STRETCHED OUT IN ROOM TEN O NINE, WITH SMILE ON YOUR FACE AND A WEEKEND PREDICTION RIGHT IN YOUR EYE

(In Gene Shalit Voice) It looks like American Gangster will try and swat away Bee Movie

(Dre Puts gun to head, pulls trigger)

Oh shit, I just wrote a direction, please, WGA, please please please, ignore that, I didn’t mean to scab.

Gangster is tracking big, but kids movies are always formidable. Gangster should top Bee, which has saturated the market to the point of overexposure. If the kids like it, if it’s not too adult, it should have no problem getting to $100. But Gangster should remain king.

New Line is dumping Martian Child. Can John Cusack sucker $5 mil out of another appearance of Lloyd Dobler? The teenage girls who experienced Lloyd in 1989 are now in their late 30’s though his appeal ranges from women in their late 40’s down to the tweeners who have seen it for the first time. Everybody who knows Lloyd loves him. But a dump is a dump. Saw IV will outperform it as will Dan in Real Life.

So here we go:

1. American Gangster - $43.1 Million
2. Bee Movie – 37.6 Million
3. Saw IV – 12.4 Million
4. Dan in Real Life - $7.4 Million
5. Martian Child - $4.6 Million

And then Sunday… Well, shit’ll happen. Hopefully none of it will land on me. Or you.