Jordan Peele has Hollywood hot for him. The first-time filmmaker’s $4.5 million debut, Get Out, not only got critics raving, but also became a runaway hit earning over $190 million to date. That’s a huge return on investment for Universal Pictures, so it’s little surprise the studio wants to stay in the Peele business.
Since Get Out’s earliest screenings, entertainment reporters and fans have been speculating what the writer/director’s next move would be. Mark Harris—in a Vulture piece I highly recommend reading in full—notes than many were thinking Hollywood would throw a big-budgeted franchise flick Peele’s way, as it is their way. He could follow in the footsteps of Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed to Jurassic World), Gareth Edwards (Monsters to Godzilla), and Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station to Creed). Rumor has it Warner Bros has been courting Peele to helm that long-in-the-works Akira remake. But Harris argues that Peele made his mark with original content, and should be encouraged by studios to keep churning out original content! And it looks like Universal is giving Peele that chance.
Variety reports Universal will produce Peele’s next film, an untitled thriller that will also attack “social demons,” just as Get Out tackled the sly racism of seemingly liberal White folk. Specifics on his next film are nonexistent at this time, but Peele has previously said he has plans to make 5 such socially conscious thrillers over the next ten years. So, this is a great step toward that goal. Universal will also work with Peele’s company Monkeypaw Productions to produce other films, including micro-budget horror with the master of micro-budget horror Jason Blum (The Purge,
Sinister, Insidious, and Ouija: Origin of Evil). Basically, Universal gets it.
Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley said in a statement about the deal:
“Through extraordinary imagination and fearless humor, Jordan has proven himself to be a game-changer who is driven to tell stories that are as commercially entertaining as they are disruptive and provocative. The entire Universal family takes great pride in his incomparable filmmaking debut, and feel fortunate that this studio will be Jordan’s home for many years to come.”
This is amazing news for fans of Peele and fans of Get Out. But best of all, this is great news for horror. The often derided genre has been on an endless battle for respectability. You see the occasional win with “art house horror” like The Babadook, The Witch or It Follows winning praise and making decent box office. But Get Out was a horror film that featured no major stars, was made on a small budget, did not depend on established characters or subgenre tropes (ghosts, witches, zombies, gonzo gore) to get audiences in the door. And it drew massive crowds all the same, because it proved to be a great goddamn movie! It told a riveting story with a sharp sense of satire that demanded audiences not only be entertained, but also take home a message a more insidious side to race relations. It inspired people to talk about it, and tell their friends, “You have to see this.” And it didn’t just do well, it’s one of the biggest—if not the biggest—box office successes of the year, return on investment-wise. It’s a solid step in making horror at long last legit, as some critics (including this one) are already speculating Get Out could be a dark horse in the 2018 Oscars.
Considering all this, it might seem obvious that Universal is all like, “TAKE OUR MONEY AND YOU DO YOU, JORDAN!” But as we’ve seen with one talented new director after another, the far more common route in Hollywood is to feed their spark of originality into a machine of reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels, and adaptations, hoping to give old, dusty, but established properties a new sheen with some fresh blood. Props to Peele for resisting that well-worn road, and carving his own path. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
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