LWLies intercepts a private message concerning an exciting new Untitled Shark Pic.
From: Universal Studios
To: Zanuck/Brown Productions
re: Untitled Shark Picture
Great meeting with you last month! Everyone at the studio is really jazzed about working on what we feel could be a really interesting project.
We’ve subsequently knocked our heads together, done a bit of audience research, had a couple of freeform brainstorming sessions and come up with few ideas, notes and concerns regarding what we think could turn out to be a truly special picture.
1. The shark Lose the shark. The feedback we’re getting is that sharks simply don’t 'do it' for people. Who even goes to the beach anymore? Florida’s Universal Orlando Resort, for instance, offers many excellent family water park-themed packages that are as safe as they are fun, with many rides and flumes boasting a single-figure fatality quotient year-on-year since 2007/2008.
No, what we need is a menace that can terrorise on land as well as in the sea. Suggestions around the Universal watercooler include Crab, Otter, a Pre-historic alien of some kind, or an atomically engorged water-lizard poss. caused by N. Korean offshore nuclear experiments? Just spitballing here.
And if it simply has to be a shark, what’s his ‘backstory’? Who is this guy?
2. The director No real problem as to the director you’ve suggested, but do we really want a Jewish guy stuck on a boat off Nantucket Sound for seven months? This one really is your call.
3. The cast i. Chief Brody. In our meeting you mentioned something about Brody being a ‘satchel-faced hard-ass’ in the ‘Roy Scheider mould’. Love the colour, but gotta say none of that really ‘pizazzed’ anyone over here. The whole idea skews a little geezer-ish for a summer tentpole. Perhaps trade ‘satchel-faced hard-ass’ for ‘rough-hewn rogue’ and we’re getting close. Colin Farrell close! Our Vegas people tell us he definitely needs the money.
ii. Hooper Hmm. We understand the script calls for a ‘bookish, driven marine biologist’, but Shia LaBeouf owes us a contractual… Just a thought.
iii. Quint Now, we like this guy. Our demographics people, however, aren’t so sure. They feel his grizzled experience/old fartiness undermines the Farrell-LaBeouf star axis. We can’t have the above-the-liners mingling their character arcs with some smelly old fossil – no pun intended! (note: only a pun if sharks are 'fossils' – can we get someone in research to check?).
The thinking this end is that if he were merely a kooky/soused/foreign-style Sea Cap'n-type, then Col and Shia could still shine. A straw poll around the office has come up with Christoph Waltz. Or – if Waltz proves too 'speciality' [European] – a heavily accented Woody Harrelson might make do.
4. The script We like it. The seaside location offers some excellent opportunities for plenty of product placement crossover. Oakley, Billabong, Pepsi and a really energetic new Canadian start-up specialising in some kind of edible sun tan lotion are already onboard (pending final script approval, naturally).
Sidebar: the ‘Amity Island’ setting could surely be switched to Hawaii, no? The soon-to-be-opened Universal Maui Resort offers miles of sandy beaches and plenty of exciting leisure pursuits for both young and old and could easily accommodate the needs and requirements of a large international film crew. Again, just a thought.
5. The score We won’t beat around the bush; we’ve got some real concerns here. During a listening party we held for the demos you sent over, many of our interns didn’t even look up from their BlackBerrys, let alone ‘rock it’. Upon filing out, one of them was heard to bemoan that the entire score sounded like ‘a walrus fucking a slack bandsaw’. Not a good sign.
Word is Pitbull loves Peter Benchley’s original novel, so we may have an option there. Also, we have a great relationship with Usher. Perhaps let us get a tracklist together for you while pre-production ramps up. If the director happens to gravitate toward one song in particular, we’ll see what we can do to secure the rights as a prospective title track/title.
6. The title According to the online tracking guys at OnDigitalligator, your suggested title of ‘Jaws’ doesn’t appear to be gaining any traction at all in the 9-14 year-old market. This is disappointing to us as we know it will be to the guys at Burger King, who had some truly creative fish sandwich tie-ins lined up.
Our response was to co-opt Universal Studio’s last ‘dress-down Friday’ for an impromptu ‘Name the Shark Picture’ contest, where prizes ranged from two weeks in Universal Brazzaville Resort to a guided tour of OnDigitalligator’s swanky new ‘Silicon Valley’ headquarters and signed copies of Usher’s hot new album. Winning entries included –
Holiday Shark Attack
The Saltwater Curse of Auld Leviathan
[Shark] School’s Out!
and, our favourite –
Dude, Where’s Your Kid?
Plenty there to 'chew on' there, we feel. (pun intended!)
Anyway, we don’t want to ‘note’ you to death, so we’ll leave it there for now. Hopefully we can build on the original concept to produce something truly exceptional. Too many films these days are pointless, cookie-cutter affairs. Our hope is to create a film that recalls the likes of Armageddon, Gone in 60 Seconds and Jurassic Park III. With the wealth of creativity, technology, audience research and corporate partnerships the studio can call upon, we feel that ‘Untitled Shark Picture’ could go on become a truly fresh, exciting and memorable movie.
Head of Movies, Universal Pictures.