(MENAFN- Arab Times) William Friedkin, the US director who made the Oscar-winning movies "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection", is dismissive about the flood of superhero and sci-fi movies that have taken over today's box office. "Films used to be rooted in gravity. They were about real people doing real things," the acclaimed 79-year-old filmmaker told AFP as he attended the Champs-Elysees Film Festival in Paris.
Today, he said, "cinema is all about 'Batman', 'Superman', 'Iron Man', 'Avengers', 'Hunger Games' in America: all kinds of stuff that I have no interest in seeing at all." That race by studios to appeal to the broadest audience possible is why his own movies fell out of favour after his peak in the 1970s, he admitted. "That is when my films went like that - out of the frame."
Friedkin says he saw the change happen in 1977 when he made what he considered his best movie - the largely ignored "Sorcerer", about four men transporting a cargo of nitroglycerin in South America - only to see it eclipsed by the huge hit of that year: "Star Wars".
Now Friedkin reckons "the best work" for directors is on television, on US cable and video-on-demand services that produce quality series such as "True Detective" and "House of Cards". The shift to those outlets, he said, is the "new zeitgeist".
"You develop character at a greater length and the story is more complex and deeper than cinema," the director said. "Many of the fine filmmakers of today are going to long-form TV. It is the most welcoming place to work for a director today."
Friedkin is looking to ride that wave, working on a script for the HBO cable network about Mae West, the American sex symbol and entertainer counted as one of Hollywood's biggest ever stars. He has spoken to Bette Midler about playing the part.
He is also looking at turning another of his big films, "To Live and Die in LA", into a TV series, with different characters and plot.
If his past work serves as inspiration for what he's doing today, it's in no small part due to the fact that he has long been fascinated by the timeless theme of good versus evil.
"Most of my films are about the thin line between good and evil that exists in everyone," he said.
"I believe that within all of us, there is a good side and a dark side. And it's a constant struggle to have your good side triumph over the dark side. And sometimes people don't and lose control of themselves."
Although his NYC-cop-in-France movie "The French Connection" and the demon possession drama "The Exorcist" made him a star director at the time, his later films never scaled such heights.
But Friedkin resisted going back and doing the sequels to his masterpieces, saying it would have been purely about the money. "I am not interested" in making movies just for the pay-cheque, Friedkin said. "I have to love the film, the story, the characters."
His "Exorcist" movie "was enough," he said. "There were four sequels to 'The Exorcist' and I've seen none of them, nor do I want to or intend to." Likewise, with 1971's "The French Connection", which starred Gene Hackman and won five Oscars, "there was nothing more that could be said". That demurral didn't stop the production of a 1975 sequel, also with Hackman and directed by John Frankenheimer, who notably made the original "The Manchurian Candidate".
Friedkin, however, placed "Sorcerer" well above "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection" as he looked over his half-century career and 20 films. That movie, starring Roy Scheider, was the one that emerged closest to his original vision, he said, and dealt with a theme that he holds dear - fate.
LOS ANGELES: With Eddie Redmayne set as the male lead for J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter spinoff "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," Warner Bros. is firming up the rest of the film's cast.
"Inherent Vice" actress Katherine Waterston has landed one of the female leads opposite Redmayne in the first installment of the new franchise, which is being planned as a trilogy. Waterston will play the pivotal role of Tina, short for Porpentina, a witch who - unlike the beloved characters from Rowling's Harry Potter books - works her magic in the US She meets magizoologist Newt Scamander (Redmayne) when he stops in New York City on his travels to find and document magical creatures.
Two pivotal roles in the film have yet to be cast: Queenie, Tina's younger sister, and Jacob, a rival of Scamander's.
The studio is said to be looking for more established faces for the spinoff, unlike the newcomers they discovered for the original "Harry Potter" franchise. David Yates is directing with Rowling making her screenwriting debut on the trilogy.
Set in New York roughly seven decades before Harry Potter's saga starts, "Fantastic Beasts" is based on the Hogwarts textbook of the same name and follows the adventures of its author, Newt Scamander. Scamander is described as a "magiczoologist," which in the "Harry Potter" realm is a person who studies magical creatures. Besides Scamander, there are four other main roles - two American girls and two American boys - that the studio is looking to cast.
"Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 years, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the 'Harry Potter' series but an extension of the wizarding world," Rowling explained. The film is set to bow on Nov 18, 2016.
LOS ANGELES: Dimension Films and Trancas International Films are starting production on "Halloween Returns," the 11th film in the Michael Myers franchise, in July. Marcus Dunstan is directing from a script he wrote with Patrick Melton. The duo teamed on the scripts for the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh "Saw" movies.
John Carpenter originated the franchise in 1978, directing and co-writing with producer Debra Hill and creating the Michael Myers villain as an escaped mental patient. Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis starred in Curtis' film debut as the heroine Laurie Strode.
The most recent films in the franchise were directed by Rob Zombie - 2007's "Halloween" and 2009's "Halloween II." "Halloween Returns" is produced by Malek Akkad with Matthew Stein as executive producer. The logline is currently being kept under wraps.
"Michael Myers has taken a long break from the bigscreen, and we know fans are eager to see him return," said Bob Weinstein, co-chair of the Weinstein Company and Dimension Films. "We are excited to be back in business with Trancas and look forward to bringing one of the scariest installments of this classic franchise to audiences worldwide."
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