Is Paramount Pictures ready for a major comeback? Addressing press yesterday at a special preview of the company’s upcoming slate, studio chief Brad Grey reassured the crowd that despite a bumpy 2016 (box office misfires include “Ben-Hur,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows” and “Zoolander 2”), Paramount was ready to thrive again and has saved the very best for last. Over the next two months, Paramount will release three major titles, each coming from a heavyweight director and being watched closely by Oscar pundits: Robert Zemeckis’ “Allied,” Denzel Washington’s “Fences” and Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.”
The latter is perhaps the most anticipated of the lot. “Silence” has been a passion project for Martin Scorsese over the last 28 years, but the challenging subject matter (Jesuit priests spreading the gospel of Christianity in feudal Japan) has made its potential box office performance a question mark. Paramount confirmed the film, starring Adam Driver, Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield, would open this Christmas just a few weeks ago, and they debuted the first footage, which Variety described as having “a hallucinatory quality.”
The 45-second teaser included quick images of a famished-looking Liam Neeson praying, Japanese men being hanged on crosses and breathtaking landscape shots of the Japanese countryside. No word on when the teaser will debut online, but Grey confirmed Scorsese is still toying with the film in the editing booth. It looks like the final cut of “Silence” will be coming in at the last minute.
Other highlights included a stirring monologue from “Fences” delivered by Washington, as well as the premiere footage from Scarlett Johansson’s “Ghost In The Shell” adaptation. Directed by Rupert Sanders and adapted from the iconic manga series of the same name, “Ghost In The Shell” has made plenty of headlines for casting Johansson in the lead role, a cyborg law enforcer who is Japanese in the original text. Despite the controversy, the first footage showed the actress playing the part considerably well. According to Variety, “The footage featured kinetic action sequences with Johansson in full-‘Lucy’ mode, mowing down armies of bad guys.”
Looking well into 2017, Paramount has new films from directors Alexander Payne, George Clooney and, most excitingly, Darren Aronofsky. The latter has recruited the likes of Jennifer Lawrence for his mysterious new film, and Paramount revealed the title for the very first time: “Mother.” Head over to Variety for more from the Paramount slate preview.