There’s no denying that a seismic shift is taking place within the entertainment industry right now due to Netflix. Filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Alfonso Cuaron are flocking to the streaming service to make their passion projects, while the major Hollywood studios turn their attention almost exclusively to blockbuster filmmaking. It remains to be seen just how severe of an effect this will have on the industry in the long term, and what the outcome will be, but Netflix is quickly becoming a potential haven for filmmakers who have movies that the studios just don’t make anymore.
One such film is Wonderland, a crime drama based on the best-selling detective series by Robert B. Parker. The project has Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon) directing and Mark Wahlberg starring, and when Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently spoke to Berg about his latest collaboration with Wahlberg Mile 22, the discussion turned towards what we can expect from Wonderland.
Berg acknowledged that the source material inspired the TV series Spencer for Hire, but said his film will be significantly darker, portraying a modern version of Boston:
“Wonderland is Spencer for Hire, based on the book series that led to Spenser for Hire, which was a pretty good TV series a long time ago and if you’re a fan of Spencer for Hire, we’re gonna do something much darker, kind of more along the lines of like a modern Chinatown. A detective story set in a Boston that isn’t the Whitey Bulger Boston but it’s something equally dark, but probably feels a bit more modern and is more inclusive than just Southie Boston.”
L.A. Confidential screenwriter Brian Helgeland is writing the script, and Berg said filming is expected to begin the last week of September in Boston. Since the film is based on a book series, we asked if the plan was to create further sequels for Netflix, and Berg seemed optimistic:
“I mean if it’s successful [we would make sequels]—I think there there’s 150 books with this character. So if it’s successful and it’s something that we do one every three years or two years—I don’t know what the number would be—and it’s something that we all like, that we feel is creatively satisfying and doesn’t feel like a slog, I think we would definitely do it. Mark and I are brothers and we love working together.”
Berg says the film will be a Hard R, and discussed the freedom that Netflix allows when making a film for the streaming service:
“That’s what’s so remarkable about Netflix. They’re making 80 movies this year. 80 movies. That doesn’t include television shows. Scott Stuber, who’s running the film side, I’ve worked with him. He’s an old friend of mine. He’s basically coming to filmmakers and saying, ‘Whatever you want. What do you want to do?’ It reminds me of 30 for 30, when ESPN started that I directed the first 30 for 30—it was called King’s Ransom. Bill Simmons, who was kind of organizing 30 for 30, came to me and said, ‘I wanna do 30 docs with 30 directors. Anything you want. Anything you want!’”
Berg also spoke extensively about how Netflix is changing the way movies get made, and his own internal dilemma over being a purist about the theatrical experience but also acknowledging Netflix is one of the only studios in town allowing films like this to get made.
Check out the full discussion in the video above, and look for our full interview with Berg on Collider soon. If you missed what the director had to say about The Rundown sequel, click here.