Filmmaker Adam McKay has had quite the unpredictable career. From head writing on Saturday Night Live, to making Will Ferrell comedy classics Anchorman and Step Brothers, to making political muckrakers The Big Short and Vice, to helping birth the “It Show” of the moment Succession — McKay’s points of interest seem to know no bounds. Now, as reported by Deadline, McKay will keep poking the hornet’s nest of hot-button issues with newly founded production company Hyperobject Industries. Their deal with Paramount Pictures will hopefully foster the home for McKay’s next directorial project: Don’t Look Up.
If The Big Short was about the horrors of finance and Vice about the horrors of government, Don’t Look Up seems to be about the uniquely paralyzing horrors of climate change. McKay called it a “dark satire in the school of Wag the Dog, Doctor Strangelove and Network and if it is half as good as any of them, I will be happy.” Those are all, indeed, excellent films, and are all interested in the media, the fallibility of men in power, and the culpability of society for letting horrible things happen. McKay summarized the plot of his film succinctly: “Two mid-level astronomers discover a meteorite will destroy earth in six months and must go on a media tour to warn mankind.”
Based on this logline, the films namechecked by McKay, and his recent directorial work, I have to imagine their “media tour” is going to backfire in cynical, satirical, rabble-rousing ways, indicting just about everyone watching the film in the process. I, personally, find McKay’s recent predilections for cheekily rendered didactics and silly formal experiments to be contrived at best and, frankly, annoying at worse. But if one crisis demands a “scream at its audience” treatment, it’s climate change — and McKay just might have found his accessible entry point in with Don’t Look Up.
McKay went on to deliver an uncharacteristically optimistic statement on the TV and film industry:
I believe that genres are starting to blur together, that the risks you are allowed to take is growing as so much stuff is getting made and audiences are so savvy… As a result the choices you can make in a movie or TV show has expanded. If there’s a mandate — and all the producers here are empowered to seek what they like and find interesting — it’s to keep pushing in that direction. Try to find stories, structures, tones and genres that really push the edges of what we traditionally thought we could do.
I gotta say, that sounds pretty cool! And the other projects being developed by Hyperobject Industries range from “pretty cool” (a multi-format docudrama series about the Los Angeles Lakers that will touch on “class, race, [and] gender”) to “very expected from McKay” (an expose series on Jeffrey Epstein; an anthology series more directly about global warming).
But McKay didn’t just reveal his own upcoming projects. He also weighed in on the ongoing “are Marvel movies cinema?” debate that’s swallowed up the likes of Martin Scorsese, James Gunn, and countless more in its wake. McKay… is pretty damn pro-superhero!
I wrote one, Ant-Man, and I love ‘em. I felt like, c’mon Marty, what are you doing? You’re an all-time hero, and some of those movies are really good. To anyone who disses superhero movies, I always say, watch Thor: Ragnarok. That movie is awesome.
Boy, wouldn’t you just love to watch Thor: Ragnarok with Scorsese? What would he say about Korg?!
McKay went on to praise Todd Phillips, another comedy-maverick-turned-serious-director, for his work on Joker, and said that the secret to his Hangover movies “was that they were so well made.” In fact, McKay had nothing but effusive things to say about our current state of cinema, citing titles like Joker, Jojo Rabbit, and Marriage Story to encapsulate what he calls “an explosion in the amount of movies and series being made, the likes of which I wonder has ever existed in Hollywood.” So take that, Scorsese, director of the current Netflix masterpiece The Irishman!
“We’re just living in strange, unprecedented times,” continued McKay. “The goal of [Hyperobject Industries] is to dive face first into these times and see how much we can push things.” From Don’t Look Up and beyond, I will be intrigued to see the directions Hyperobject Industries pushes toward. For more on McKay, check out the musical sequence that was cut from Vice.