After months of rumblings, the latest A-list ensemble project from The Big Short and Don’t Look Up Filmmaker Adam McKay hits Hollywood.
Has a title Average Height, Average Build, the project is described as part serial killer thriller, part comedy, following a killer who uses political lobbyists to change laws to make it easier for him to kill, according to sources. Like all of McKay’s recent work, the project will address larger sociopolitical ills — the 2008 housing crisis (The Big Short) and climate crisis (Don’t Look Up) — this time dealing with crime and corruption.
McKay wrote the script and will direct the feature that hit studio heads’ inboxes this week. Actors attached include Robert Pattinson, Amy Adams, Robert Downey Jr., Forest Whitaker and Danielle Deadwyler. The script needs many more characters to be filled.
The project lies with McKay for a long time, along with the filmmaker talked about working on a new script that will deal with “big, dirty money” during a Q&A at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. At the time, he described the project as a farce.
But despite the high-wattage cast and McKay’s enviable track record, the project is facing some headwinds at studios, with some having passed on it while others are taking their time to crunch a numbers. If it goes to a streamer, the starry cast will require a significant up-front buy-out, which is why some are reluctant to jump in. Insiders at other studios note that it’s a particular challenge to release a dark political comedy in the current theatrical landscape. McKay told the studios that the project would appeal to both sides of the political spectrum, but not everyone felt that way. Apple, with whom McKay had a first-look deal, did not jump on the project.
The fact that a package that has an Oscar-winning behind-the-camera team, a filmmaker whose last film earned a best picture nomination, and is populated on screen by awards-circuit regulars and superheroes is not can still find a house right away. exactly screams “hot package” and is symbolic of the current state of Hollywood. There’s a high level of risk aversion — financial, thematic or otherwise — even if streamers aren’t quite as willing to throw away the big bucks they’ve flagged over the past two years to attract A-list talent.
McKay is planning a late-summer shoot in Boston. The film does not yet have a studio on board to finance or distribute. The writer-director has already lined up key below-the-line talent including cinematographer Todd Banhazl, who worked on McKay’s HBO series Winning Time.
to McKay Don’t Look Up starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, with an ensemble that includes Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance and Tyler Perry. It was nominated for best picture, with McKay picking up a nomination for best original screenplay.
The actors so far are newcomers to the McKay school of big-issue comedy, except for Adams. He and McKay previously collaborated on McKay’s film Dick Cheney Vice. Pattinson starred last The Batman and will be seen next in Bong Joon Ho’s Mickey 17. Adams was most recently seen in the Disney sequel Disenchanted and will next be seen in Marielle Heller’s comedy horror Nightbitch. Downey will next be seen in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimerwhile Whitaker is currently shooting Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis. Deadwyler has gotten a lot of attention this awards season for her role as Mamie Till-Mobley Until.