24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Danny Boyle

‘Catching Fire’ writer sinks sharp teeth into werewolves, ‘Sharks’

June 8, 2012 |  4:09 pm

Simon Beaufoy is set to take on "Raw Sharks"
You might not think there’s much left for a Hollywood screenwriter to accomplish after penning a sequel to “The Hunger Games.” But for Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning scribe behind “Slumdog Millionaire,” there’s plenty of work ahead now that he’s  finished adapting Suzanne Collins' novel “Catching Fire."

“I’m done [with ‘Catching Fire’] and getting back to several different projects,” Beaufoy told 24 Frames from his home in London on Thursday.

One big priority? “The Raw Shark Texts,” the adaptation of Steven Hall’s science fiction-y novel that Beaufoy began work on as far back as 2008.

The novel is a strange one — it’s about a man named Eric Sanderson who wakes up one day and finds an earlier version of himself has been lost on a trip to Greece, where his girlfriend was killed in a boating accident, and that his memory is possibly being pursued by sharks. Yes, sharks. They eat memory, "Eternal Sunshine"-style. Sanderson has to get to the bottom of the mystery and try to discover what happened to his dead paramour in the process.

A Times review called it  “so much more than a clever, playful book, though it is both those things,” and compared it to Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami.

The project has been stuck in development, but Beaufoy now says he has a draft he’s happy with and is, along with producers, closing in on a big-name director. He thinks the director could be signed within the next few weeks.

Beaufoy is honest about the big swing that “Raw Shark” takes. “It'll either be really tremendous or it will be a disaster. There really is no middle ground.”

Another big priority for Beaufoy: “Sharp Teeth,” Toby Barlow’s 2008 novel, written in verse (!), about a gang of werewolf dogs in East L.A. that plot to take over the city. (No, it’s not a political satire. Well, not explicitly.)

Beaufoy is getting his own (Slum)dog pack back together for this one: Christian Colson, who produced the 2009 Oscar winner, is also producing, and British powerhouse Film4 is helping to finance, as it did “Slumdog.”

Will the all-important fourth member of that crew be baring his teeth?

“I think it would be great if Danny did it,” Beaufoy said, alluding to director Danny Boyle. “But he’s got the Olympics now, so it’s hard to know what he’ll do next. He may just retire.”


Simon Beaufoy talks 'Salmon Fishing,' 'Hunger Games' sequel

A colossal fish story

Catching Fire director: Frances Lawrence or Bennett Miller?

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A great white shark opens wide. Credit: Tom Campbell/Associated Press.


Danny Boyle: I have no idea what James Franco will be up to at the Oscars [video]

February 27, 2011 | 11:00 am

Danny Boyle spent months working intimately with James Franco during production of "127 Hours," so they should know each other pretty well.

But when it comes to Franco's hosting gig during the Academy Awards on Sunday, Boyle said he's as unsure as the rest of us about how the quirky actor will pull it off.

"He'll be a surprise. He'll be unpredicatble. Maybe he'll bring out all his class along from college or something, I don't know what he'll do," Boyle said, chuckling at the possibilities.

The filmmaker, along with "127 Hours" screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and the film's real-life analog Aron Ralston, were at the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday. And while it's been a long award season, Ralston -- who famously cut off his arm to escape from a canyon where he was trapped -- said he's not ready for it to end.

"It's almost this nostalgia already. These guys in the industry," he said, looking at Boyle and Beaufoy, "you get to go on to your next projects -- your next writing and directing. So it's kind of like [for me,]  'Well, this is it.' So I'm gonna miss you guys."

Boyle, who was on the award trail just two years ago for "Slumdog Millionaire," seemed ... less upset about the fanfare coming to an end.

"It's a funny business, but you do end up meeting again," he said. "It's weird. You kind of separate for years on things and then come back somehow."

-- Amy Kaufman


Fox Searchlight celebrates those who survive '127 Hours'

December 15, 2010 |  4:40 pm

Fox Searchlight isn’t growing lightheaded from all the fainting spells its “127 Hours” is generating. Instead, the studio has decided to have fun with how difficult some moviegoers find watching director and co-writer Danny Boyle’s account of how Aron Ralston (played by James Franco) amputated his own arm following a Utah hiking accident.

1 On Thursday, the studio will launch the website www.ikeptmyeyesopenfor127hours.com. Fox Searchlight also is sending out promotional T-shirts with the website’s logo and is distributing free pins carrying the same message in about 200 theaters showing “127 Hours” this weekend.

Among the contenders for the best picture Academy Award, “127 Hours” has sparked visceral reactions at its earliest screenings, with a number of people people keeling at its initial screenings at the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Although the movie has drawn steady box-office business, with a cumulative gross of $8.5 million through six weeks of release, "127 Hours" is running about 50% behind the pace of “Slumdog Millionaire,” Boyle’s last, Oscar-sweeping effort.

It's unclear how much the amputation scene -- which somehow feels more graphic than it really is -- can be blamed for the performance. But now Fox Searchlight is trying to see if the film's potential liability can cut the other way.

-- John Horn


Movie review: '127 Hours'

'127 Hours' crowds stay upright

At '127 Hours' premiere, another call for paramedics

'127 Hours' crowds stay upright

November 8, 2010 |  7:00 am


After all the talk about fainting at "127 Hours" screenings, it turns out that the only people passing out might be those monitoring the film's grosses.

Fox Searchlight opened Danny Boyle's film, in which James Franco plays a trapped canyoneer forced to cut off his own arm to survive, to a very impressive $66,000 average on four screens in Los Angeles and New York, for a weekend total of $266,000. With a number of sellouts, the movie had one of the best limited openings of the year, edged by only "The Kids Are All Right" among mainstream releases.

Though it's impossible to know how the fainting reports ultimately affected the box office, moviegoers in these markets appeared unconcerned about -- or perhaps even piqued by -- a string of pre-release incidents in which filmgoers fainted during the movie's graphic amputation scene.

The real test, however, is yet to come. The film is turning into something of a media darling, but as the movie expands to 21 theaters in seven cities next week and eventually to a national rollout on Dec. 3, Searchlight aims to do something trickier: transfer the interest from the nation's two biggest media markets to smaller and more suburban realms.

To do that, it will deemphasize the movie's visceral aspects in favor of a theme of uplift. "What we want to show people is that this movie is about more than one graphic scene," said Sheila DeLoach, Fox Searchlight executive vice president. "It's a heartwarming movie about how strong our will to live is and what one person does in order to live."

As it seeks new horizons, the studio hopes to attract older audiences (many of the filmgoers this weekend, it said, were in the 20- to 40-year-old range).

In the meantime, the studio is happy about one thing: the absence of paramedics at screenings. "People may have closed their eyes or gripped their seats," DeLoach said. "But we didn't have any incidents."

— Steven Zeitchik

Photo: James Franco in "127 Hours." Credit: Fox Searchlight


How much will the fainting reports hurt '127 Hours?'

At '127 Hours' premiere, another call for paramedics

Company Town: A Blowout weekend, but no blowout openers



Danny Boyle: I'm very concerned about '127 Hours' fainting victims [video]

November 4, 2010 |  3:22 pm

Confusion broke out at the Beverly Hills premiere of "127 Hours" Wednesday evening when a young woman suffered a seizure midway through the film. (At the end of the screening, director Danny Boyle promptly took to the stage to say that the incident was unrelated to the movie.)

Only hours before on the red carpet, Boyle downplayed the incidents of fainting and vomiting during some of the film's early screenings after viewing a graphic amputation scene. The director emphasized that only a "very small number of people" had passed out, and said that often, those individuals returned to the theater after coming to.

"It’s not like a revulsion, like they’ve been caught out by something," Boyle explained. "I think the intensity of the journey he takes them on climaxes and they just kind of go away for a few minutes in their minds. It’s like, ‘I’m overloading.' " Check out the full video below.

--Amy Kaufman



'127 Hours' premiere: Don't faint! It's just a James Franco movie [video]

At '127 Hours' premiere, another call for paramedics

Some viewers need a hand after the forearm amputation in '127 Hours'

For Danny Boyle and company, much more than '127 Hours' of toil

At '127 Hours' premiere, another call for paramedics

November 3, 2010 | 11:17 pm

The "127 Hours" curse has struck again.

The movie that has seen filmgoers faint with amazing consistency at various screenings claimed another casualty Wednesday evening -- at the film's Beverly Hills premiere, no less. A young woman suffered a seizure about 45 minutes in, and paramedics were called to help her out of the theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The incident began with the woman first slumping in her seat and people next to her murmuring that someone should call 911. A man then stood up and called for a doctor as a crowd gathered in the aisle next to her, with some passing water to the victim. The movie continued to play even as a commotion developed in the darkened theater. Most filmgoers, however, stayed in their seats, and when the paramedics arrived, the woman walked out, wobbly but under her own power.

At the screening's conclusion, director Danny Boyle rose and said the incident was the result of a diabetic condition, and that it was the first time the woman, who appeared to be in her 20s, had had such an episode since she was 5 years old. Boyle assured the audience that she had been taken to Cedars-Sinai medical center and was doing well, adding, to laughter from the audience, that "she said it had nothing to do with the movie." A Fox Searchlight executive later echoed that account.

The episode marked the latest in an oddly frequent chain of medical incidents at screenings of the film, which depicts the real-life ordeal of a hiker trapped for nearly a week in a remote crevasse in Utah after his arm becomes pinned by a falling boulder. Wednesday's incident was unusual, however, in that it happened early in the film, well before the hiker, played by James Franco, amputates his own arm below the elbow -- the scene during which most faintings seem to take place.

The film's ability to unsettle the squeamish is by now taking on a kind of mythic power: When the graphic scene did approach, dozens of people covered or averted their eyes before the amputation even occurred.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Aron Ralston (James Franco) has to sever his arm to survive in "127 Hours." Credit: Chuck Zlotnick / Fox Searchlight/MCT


Some viewers need a hand after amputation scene in '127 Hours'

For Boyle and company, more than '127 Hours' of toil

How Danny Boyle recreated the canyon in '127 Hours': An interactive graphic

Toronto 2010: Danny Boyle's '127 Hours' looks to come in from the cold

September 12, 2010 |  7:30 am

Of the many subgenres in which Hollywood and the indie film world dabble, few have gone off a cliff, as it were, more than the outdoor survival movie.

The film industry has long had a knack for moving audiences with stories of outdoor enthusiasts facing a daunting natural enemy, from Bunuel's "Robinson Crusoe" to Curtis Hanson's "The River Wild." Just a decade ago, "Cast Away," "Vertical Limit" and "The Perfect Storm" were global blockbusters (if not exactly great films).

But many of the outdoor survival movies of late -- "Into the Wild" and "The Road" come to mind -- have been box-office disappointments. It's not entirely the movies' fault. As human enemies began to seem more fearsome in the aughts, nature seemed less villainous. (Also not helping was the fact that as the decade wore on the outdoor-adventure craze that took hold in the 1990s began to cool down.)

Which may be why there's no better director than Danny Boyle to kick-start a comeback for the subgenre. Boyle is one of the most kinetic directors working today; if there's a filmmaker who can make the battle against the outdoors seem less flat or cliched and get people interested in a genre they've long abandoned, it's him.

Bringing new energy to the outdoor-survival film is pretty much what the "Slumdog Millionaire" auteur attempts in "127 Hours." The movie is based on the true story of canyoneering enthusiast and self-styled outdoorsman Aron Ralston (James Franco), who after nearly a week fighting the elements while pinned under a rock in a remote part of Utah, amputates his own arm to set himself free and survive.

After a teary screening in Telluride last weekend, the film had its official unveiling for hundreds of members of the media and movie industry in Toronto on Saturday. An hour-long delay and a move to a new theater set the crowd on edge, and Boyle himself turned out to crack a few jokes and appease the audience. But when the lights finally went down, all was forgotten.

Continue reading »

Telluride 2010: Danny Boyle's '127 Hours' cuts an impressive swath

September 4, 2010 |  4:00 pm


Many tears were shed at the world premiere screening of “127 Hours” at the Telluride Film Festival on Saturday afternoon. But few in the audience of some 500 cried harder than Aron Ralston, the hiker who famously cut off his right forearm and is the subject of director Danny Boyle’s new movie.

Boyle has described the film, which Fox Searchlight is releasing on Nov. 5, as an action movie in which the hero doesn’t move -- a reference to how Ralston (played in the film by James Franco) was pinned by a falling boulder in an isolated canyon and was forced to amputate one of his limbs in order to survive.

But as Boyle has proved throughout his filmmaking career -- his last film, “Slumdog Millionaire,” which premiered at Telluride two years ago, not only won the Oscar for best picture but also for directing, cinematography and editing -- he can take a scene that at first glance looks unfeasible to film and make it both visually kinetic and emotionally moving. Christian Colson, who produced “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours,” said Ralston’s tale “was a story that on paper felt impossible to tell as a movie.”

Boyle appears to have taken that as a challenge.

In “127 Hours,” Boyle’s cameras (he used two cinematographers, Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak) never stop moving. They soar over the desolate Utah canyons where Ralston was stuck for all those hours. They swim through the water bottle as he drinks his last drink. They penetrate his arm, as Ralston’s knife stops when it hits bone. They enter a duffel bag that Ralston has put over his head to stay warm in the 44-degree chill, the bag’s nylon shell becoming a miniature movie screen in which Ralston briefly revisits the world he has left behind and might never see again.

Most directors would have cut away from Ralston to focus on the building rescue effort, but Boyle doesn’t. Franco is in virtually every second of the movie. As he becomes increasingly dehydrated, he starts to hallucinate, and it is after one such hallucination -- in which Ralston thinks he might be seeing a son who is not yet born -- that Ralston decides to take dramatic action and cut himself out.

In making the movie, Boyle knew that if the audience averted its eyes when Ralston ultimately broke the bones in his arm and severed a tangled mass of tendons, muscle and nerves with a dull knife, “127 Hours” would have failed. Although one member of the Telluride audience apparently passed out during the graphic sequence, very few looked away. Ralston, who was attending the screening with his wife, was visibly moved throughout the film, but the tears really started flowing when he watched the reenactment of his primitive surgical procedure. The relief in the theater was palpable -- if there’s such a thing as quiet cheering, there it was.

“It’s like we all just went through what I did,” Ralston told the audience after the screening’s conclusion. Even though “127 Hours” takes some dramatic liberties (a flash-flood scene, in particular), the movie was “all very accurate and real,” Ralston said.

“This is insane,” are the first words Ralston speaks as soon as he is trapped by the large falling rock. His situation was doubtless that. Yet even crazier is that Boyle has made Ralston’s tale spellbinding — truly an action movie in which the hero doesn’t move.

-- John Horn in Telluride, Colo.

Photo: James Franco as Aron Ralston in "127 Hours." Credit: Chuck Zlotnick / Fox Searchlight

Preview review: Danny Boyle spends '127 Hours' with James Franco

August 25, 2010 |  3:48 pm

127H-06688 It was only two years ago that "Slumdog Millionaire" swept the Academy Awards, claiming eight Oscars, including one for best director Danny Boyle. That's a fact, it seems, Fox Searchlight doesn't want audiences to forget.

The new teaser trailer for "127 Hours," Boyle's first film after "Slumdog," opens by hyping the director's many credits: "Trainspotting," "28 Days Later," "The Beach." Set to music with a strong drumbeat, the trailer's opening definitely has a "Slumdog" vibe to it -- lots of fast-paced edits, wide shots of impressive scenery. "This fall," the preview touts, Boyle "takes us on a ride beyond our imagination -- and it's true."

That journey? It follows Aron Ralston (played by James Franco), the mountain climber who infamously got trapped under a boulder in Utah in 2003 and was forced to cut part of his arm off to escape a near-death situation.

We've heard that a majority of the film deals with Ralston's frightening predicament, and the loneliness and desperation he deals with over the 127 hours he's pinned under a rock. (And is perhaps thematically similar to the upcoming "Buried," in which Ryan Reynolds plays a U.S. contractor who gets buried alive in a coffin in Iraq.) But you might not realize that, having only watched the movie's trailer.

Indeed, most of the footage we see from the movie is, we'd imagine, not in line with the film's larger tone. As Ralston, Franco comes across as an offbeat adventurer -- a dude unafraid to take risks in the dangerous outdoors, who manages to chuckle even after taking a painful-looking fall off of his bike. He's believable in this playful goofball/stoner type of role, especially when he charms the socks off of two cute girl hikers (Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn) in need of a guide.

Watching his performance evolve as the story goes to a much darker, introspective place is something we're looking forward to. But what has us more perplexed is how Boyle will deal with the rest of the movie, which -- as far as we can tell -- seems to take place largely inside the crevice of a rock canyon. We're hoping that the film will take us that deep inside Ralston's mind, too.

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: James Franco in "127 Hours." Credit: Chuck Zlotnick / Fox Searchlight.


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