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by Shipra Gupta and Eric Kohn
May 16, 2014 6:30 AM
10 Comments
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Here's Everything You Need to Know About the 'Spring Breakers 2' Scandal -- So Far

James Franco, Instagram

This week, "Spring Breakers" star James Franco expressed displeasure over news that MUSE Prods. is developing a sequel to last summer's sleeper hit, currently titled "Spring Breakers: The Second Coming," without having sought out Korine's consent.

In a post on via his Instagram feed, Franco wrote:

STATEMENT ABOUT SPRING BREAKERS 2: This is not being done with Harmony Korine or my consent. The original was wholly Harmony's creation and these producers are capitalizing on that innovative film to make money on a weak sequel. I want everyone to know that whoever is involved in the sequel is jumping on board a poison ship. It will be a terrible film, with a horrible reason d'être: to make money off someone else's creativity. Can you imagine someone making the sequel to "Taxi Driver" without Scorcese and DeNiro's consents? Insanity! I'm speaking up for Harmony and his original vision and for any creative person who cares about preserving artistic integrity.

Franco's Instagram statement has received over 82,000 likes since it was posted. However, this wasn't the first time he referenced possible misdealings behind the scenes. 

On May 9, three days after international sales company Wild Bunch announced its intention to raise money for the project during the Cannes Film Festival, along with the attachment of director Jonas Akerlund and Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh ("Trainspotting") to write the screenplay, Franco published a peculiar video of himself looking like a doped-out version of his "Spring Breakers" character, Alien. The caption reads as follows:

ALIEN IN REHAB! And BTW F*** that SBers 2 BS, they're doing it without HARMONY's CONSENT. Sounds LAME AS A MUTHA!


As the online world took note of Franco's comment, producer Chris Hanley, who founded MUSE with his wife Roberta, attempted to fire back in a cheeky interview with Variety by pointing out how the actor does not seem to discriminate against roles he gets offered in studio sequels such as "The Great and Mighty Oz," "Spider Man" and "Planet of the Apes."

"I guess he thinks only 'too big to fail studio films' are the artistically valid ventures," Hanley told the publication.


Hanley himself is no stranger to sequels. After producing Mary Harron's "American Psycho" in 2000, he had an executive producer credit on the poorly received direct-to-video followup -- with which Harron had no involvement -- two years later. 

According to Variety, Hanley and Jordan Gertner of Hero Entertainment (also a producer on the original and now the intended sequel) insist that they "have all rights to all prequels, sequels, remakes, animation spinoffs" for "Spring Breakers," which was the biggest commercial success of Korine's career, grossing more than $31 million worldwide (not counting its sizable performance on home entertainment platforms) -- over six times its $5 million production budget.

While MUSE has a long history of developing projects at Cannes, its track record with filmmakers is less consistent. Among the major filmmakers who have worked with Hanley in the past, including Harron, Sofia Coppola with "The Virgin Suicides" and Nick Cassavetes with the still-unreleased "Yellow," none of have worked with the company a second time.

Meanwhile, Wild Bunch arrived at Cannes this week to push "Spring Breakers: Second Coming," unveiling a graphic billboard across the street from the festival's headquarters, in the exact same location where a poster for the first film was unveiled two years ago:


While Hanley may have the rights to produce the sequel, his response to Franco registers as something of a red herring. Rather than claiming to take issue with the sequel concept, the actor accuses MUSE of trying to "make money off someone else's creativity" -- that "someone else" being Korine, who has yet to make a public statement about the situation. (Reports about a status update posted to Korine's Facebook page are incorrect; Korine is not on Facebook.)

Franco and Korine's public protests raise an important question about the ethics of Muse's decision to exclude Korine from a sequel -- particularly in light of a comment made by Roberta Hanley, in which she says that "we’ve done nothing but smuggle important artists into Hollywood."

Ironically, the prospects of an unauthorized "Spring Breakers" sequel runs counter that very notion: The film's massive success may have catapulted Korine's vision to the forefront of pop culture consciousness -- without him, the project loses the originality that made it succeed in the first place.

Rather than attempting to bring back Korine for the sequel, MUSE replaced him with Swedish director Akerlund, who has directed music videos for the likes of Madonna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Beyonce. His movie credits are spottier, however; the director's 2012 comedy "Small Apartments" was met with universal disdain from critics following its premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. (It currently has a "D" average on our Criticwire Network.)

The absence of a major box office success from both Akerland and Welsh's respective resumes also implies a relatively low budget for the project, which means that the various parties could be counting on a controversy to raise its profile at no cost.

Although Gertner cites "artistry" as the reason behind collaborating with new talent, his use of the past tense in describing MUSE and Hero's relationship with Korine is curious. "We had a great relationship with Harmony Korine," he told Variety, "and now we’re exploring a new incarnation of ‘Spring Breakers.'"



10 Comments

  • Ed | May 16, 2014 9:41 PMReply

    I have not yet seen SPRING BREAKERS, nor can I say I'm fan of James Franco. While I agree with the comments posted about the hypocrisy of Franco being involved in big studio tentpole remakes like PLANET OF THE APES and THE WIZARD OF OZ, I do agree with his stance about how this has played out. We've seen this happen before, obviously with AMERICAN PSYCHO 2, the DONNIE DARKO sequel, S. DARKO, and MGM battling the sequel to RAGING BULL.

    Like any smart producer, production company or studio, they own and control the rights to any sequel, prequel, remake, etc. It's the way all the big studios do business, so why not the independents? But I think what this really comes down to, is that Franco and Harmony Korine hadn't been even asked if they would like to be involved, or at least that's how it's starting to sound. Obviously Harmony Korine should have had it stated in his contract that he was to be offered the gig first, before the producers could even consider hiring another writer or director. Maybe it was offered to him, and he passed - but that's yet to be verified.

    But ultimately what it comes down to, are producers scraping the bottom the barrel to make every last cent that they can off an already established property. You'd have to be completely stupid not to see it, and I think that's what Franco is trying to say. It's pure greed amongst the producers, and nothing more. And what's so hard for me to understand, is that with this already negative press, how often do sequels to films like this even work? Examples again, S. DARKO and AMERICAN PSYCHO 2. They're movies that ended up at the bottom of a Walmart bin for $2, and are easily forgotten.

    I for one hope that this ends badly for the producers. Nobody asked for a sequel, and I doubt the original filmmaker had any intentions to do one. Sequels and prequels are fine, but only if there is a reason to actually do it - there doesn't seem to be one here other than money. It's just another example of what's so incredibly wrong with the film industry in the 21st century. This used to be a business where art and commerce worked in sync, especially in the 1970's. Producers and studio heads were actually creative and understood the makings of a great movie. What do these bankers, investment hedge fund managers and accountants know about making a great film? Yet these are the people who control everything these days, the money, the distribution, the marketing, the managing of talent. All I can say to people like Harmony Korine, and all other filmmakers is to take the George Lucas approach. Finance and control your film 100%, don't ever, ever let someone else take control of the ownership of your film. You'll probably never make anything with a budget over a million, get a major distributor or recognizable talent by doing that way, but at least you'll own your own work.

  • MookieNYC | May 16, 2014 8:11 PMReply

    This is a lame piece of reporting. It's just printing what everyone involved is saying (or tweeting) publicly, which is all spin. Maybe Harmonie was offered the sequel and turned it down (no well-represented writer/director doesn't have sequel right of first refusal). Or maybe he was being an ass about it and the Hanleys blew him off. Or maybe the Hanleys are the bad guys here...who knows??? This article sheds NO light on the situation, it's just a lazy example of reprinting tweets and quotes witout any actual journalism. May as well be reading TMZ, Page 6, or any other crappy gossipy site.

  • Bob Morton | May 16, 2014 4:57 PMReply

    That's life in the big city.

  • rtbd | May 16, 2014 10:16 AMReply

    I don't know about others, but I am seriously beginning to OD on James Franco.

  • ?????? | May 16, 2014 10:32 AM

    Probably, best if you don't follow his movements then. It's your choice to read this article.

    Whilst, the rest of his fans love to read about him and can never get enough of Franco.

  • anonymous | May 16, 2014 8:40 AMReply

    Harmony is on Facebook

  • @ !!!!! | May 16, 2014 5:43 PM

    "Speak for yourself please...", I can pretty much speak for myself but Franco does have fans just take a look at his book signings turnouts and his current Broadway show Of Mice and Men, you would think The Beatles or a president was in town. Yes, there are other major stars in Of Mice and Men not just Franco but Franco has a high volume of support.

    "The guy is more hype than substance", I know Public Enemy once said "Don't Believe The Hype" but I think in Franco's case it's for RRRRRRREEEEAAAALLLLLL. "and many people are growing tiresome of his act", what act? Now, you speak for yourself, his fan base is growing.

    "Using the analogy of a Spring Breakers sequel to a Taxi Driver and DeNiro sequel is delusional.", not if he's just making a well known comparison only, and both are classics in different ways, just depends on taste. Also, "Get a grip on reality.", to be fair on a good day, he seems to have a better grip on reality than some stars.

  • Indiewire | May 16, 2014 4:57 PM

    We confirmed with Korine that the FB account under his name is phony.

  • !!!!!! | May 16, 2014 2:47 PM

    Speak for yourself please... The guy is more hype than substance and many people are growing tiresome of his act. Using the analogy of a Spring Breakers sequel to a Taxi Driver and DeNiro sequel is delusional. Get a grip on reality.

  • Things that make you go hmmm | May 16, 2014 7:38 AMReply

    "The Great and Mighty Oz,", is a prequel to writer L. Frank Baum Oz novels, and I think 14 in total, which means it had nothing to do with "The Wizard of Oz" movie, as Sam Raimi used other aspects of the novels to complete his vision of Oz.

    "Spider Man", first original movie version.

    "Planet of the Apes.", it was a prequel that came 10 years after Mark Wahlberg's as the lead.

    "I guess he thinks only 'too big to fail studio films' are the artistically valid ventures," Hanley told the publication.", Yes, Franco has had success with big budget studio films but importantly Franco has put up his own money numerous times for his independent movies like The Broken Tower, Sal, As I Lay Dying, Child of God etc., and only recently Palo Alto movie. Franco does a lot for independent movies and I believe his directorial efforts will become classics too.

    Basically, Franco and Korine can argue (tool should have kept the rights whether you knew the movie would become a hit or not) all they like but with "have all rights to all prequels, sequels, remakes, animation spinoffs" for "Spring Breakers," what a sad thought, this new version can go ahead.

    It might be great but still, everyone will always reference the original and I believe Franco performance is iconic and Korine made a masterpiece (enough to confuse the Disney fans etc.).