Clint Eastwood made it official today at CinemaCon. He confirmed he won’t be doing the film on Richard Jewell starring Jonah Hill for Fox that was said to be his follow up project to American Sniper. He indicated there were discussions but it isn’t happening for him.
When Deadline’s Mike Fleming originally broke an exclusive March 31 about these discussions he correctly warned it could be complicated particularly since Eastwood has been loyal to Warner Bros for so long. Instead Eastwood says he is circling another unnamed film for his next after taking six months off doing back to back films Jersey Boys and Sniper.
The 84-year-old actor/director was feted by exhibitors today during The Legend Of Cinema luncheon, this year presented by CinemaCon and Warner Bros. Subheaded “A Salute To Clint Eastwood”, the iconic filmmaker received a thunderous standing ovation when being introduced after a reel highlighting his long career both in front of and behind the camera. Of course, being the director of American Sniper, the biggest grossing film released in 2014, didn’t hurt the rapturous reception the packed crowd of 2000 exhibitors gave the 84-year-old actor/director.
During an engaging half-hour conversation on stage, Eastwood got a big reaction from the crowd when he talked about how the timing of the film’s release turned out to be good for the movie when it started generating lots of controversy.
“I think this film is interesting because it was marketed very well by the Warner Bros. staff , but a lot of things kept happening all the time. The right people complained and when they complained about it people would ask me ‘what do you think about what Michael Moore said?’ I would answer, ‘he’s probably right as any way you want to look at it is different’.
‘Everyone kept saying I was going to kill Michael Moore but that’s not true. It isn’t a bad idea (big laugh from crowd). I think once years ago somebody asked me what would I do if a guy like him came to my house with a whole film crew and started filming away like he did with Charlton Heston. Unfortunately Charlton Heston was ill at the time with Alzheimers. But I thought if somebody was on your property you could shoot him (big laughs). I think about the line, ‘get off my lawn’,” he joked adding that he has never met Moore who expressed his disgust for snipers (like Chris Kyle) in a January 19th tweet that was interpreted to be criticism of the film by Moore. Moore later tweeted that he wasn’t specifically talking about Sniper and went on to praise aspects of it including Bradley Cooper’s performance as Kyle. “I’m all for (anyone expressing) what their attitudes are. That’s what is great about this country. You can say whatever you want and nobody has to agree with you,” Eastwood said.
In the conversation Eastwood reflected back on his career, the first movie that made a mark on him (Gary Cooper in Sergeant York), how he got into the business as a contract player at Universal before being fired and eventually landing a long-running TV series in 1959, Rawhide, which he says was “fun”. He said his own directorial ambitions were influenced by Sergio Leone, his spaghetti westerns helmer (“he didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Italian but it worked out okay”) and particularly his Dirty Harry director Don Siegel who inspired him to direct his first film behind the camera, 1970’s Play Misty For Me. As to why he decided to direct, he was direct himself.” I think it is a natural curiosity for an actor…After awhile you think ‘yes, I would like to do this. Someday you’re going to look up on the screen at Eastwood and you’re gonna see a guy you don’t want to see. Then you can direct’!” he said to much laughter. The two-time Oscar winner for directing Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby reluctantly named both of those films, along with The Outlaw Josey Wales, when asked by moderator Stephen Galloway if he had any personal favorites but added that his opinion of a “favorite” is basically if it was a fun shoot to do. He said getting the right casting on a film is key to its success. He also has no interest in directing a franchise film or superhero-type movie. “I read comic books when I was a kid. I don’t read them now,” he slyly answered, saying he looks for adult movies that might be R or at least PG-13.
As for the theater-going experience he’s all for it of course, but said the last movie he can remember paying to see in a theater was Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, a Best Picture rival this year that he very much liked. He did mention he will be going tonight to a theater and pay to see his son Scott’s first leading role in The Longest Ride. “Let’s see if he’s a chip off the old block,” he smiled.
At the end of the session, which was hosted by AMC’s Gerry Lopez, Eastwood received the Fandango Fan Choice Award as the favorite film of 2014 for American Sniper. He said he would put the award right up on his fireplace mantle and try not to burn it.