And the exodus continues. Another top-shelf filmmaker, Jason Reitman, is headed to TV. And not to network television or premium cable, but instead to a streaming service, though it’s easy to argue these days that it’s all becoming the same beast: narrative. But one can be excused if it feels like a bit of a retreat. “I just love making movies and I guess there’s a part of me that wants to make movies while they still make movies,” Reitman said in a Playlist interview earlier this month when asked why he works at such a quick clip, diving into movie after movie with little break in between. But clearly the filmmaker understands the game is changing and the narrative ground is shifting in exciting new directions.
However, Reitman’s latest movie, Paramount’s “Men, Women And Children,” has been a total bomb, even bigger than 2013’s much-maligned “Labor Day” which he sort of disavowed and then didn’t. Critically savaged (our review among many), “Men, Women & Children” did not do well in its opening limited release, but in its second week of expansion — 608 theaters — the movie grossed a pitiful $320,000 for a deeply unremarkable $526 per screen average (contrast that with Justin Simien’s “Dear White People” which grossed $344,000 from 11 screens the same weekend). Box-Office Mojo marks the second week expansion as the worst of 2014 and fifth worst of all time. And after four weeks of release, “Men, Women And Children” has grossed $687,646. Compare that to the low $13.3 million that the “bomb” “Labor Day” made in 2013 and you see a pattern.
Is it over for Reitman and movies? It doesn’t look good as of this moment, but don’t ring the death knell yet as Fitzgerald’s no second acts in American life line becomes more and more obsolete each year. At least in the field of entertainment. And so Hulu announced today that Reitman will be producing and directing a ten episode half-hour comedy called “Casual.”
CASUAL is a ten episode, single-camera, half-hour comedy series that follows the story of a dysfunctional family with a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister. Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating (on-line and off), while living under one roof again and raising a teenager.
However, Reitman will only direct the premiere episode, and will executive produce along with writer Zander Lehmann and Reitman’s production partner Helen Estabrook (“Whiplash,” “Young Adult”). The series comes to us through Lionsgate Television and will debut on Hulu in 2015.
Perhaps it’s a lateral move as Reitman’s still working on another feature-length drama. “I’m adapting a book by Kaui Hart Hemmings, who wrote ‘The Descendants,’ ” he said in our interview. “It’s a book called ‘The Possibilities’ and I’m in the midst of that, and we’re developing a couple of things and we’ll see what comes.”
What comes is apparently Hulu. And it’ll be interesting to see how that show goes over with audiences.