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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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January 18 2012

The 15 questions keeping Hollywood awake in 2012. Question 1 - "Can Joss Whedon finally conquer the feature film world with 'Cabin In The Woods' and 'The Avengers'?"

It remains a source of much irritation to me that Whedon's huge contribution to Toy Story, one of the most important film properties in cinema, remains largely ignored when discussing his career, or the movies themselves.
I really like that picture.
Can the mainstream audience deal with his audacious imagination and his merciless insight in human nature?
I know that's why I'm still awake.
I agree with Andy Dufresne about Joss's Oscar-Nominated work on Toy Story. Credit where it's due, please.

That said, this is Joss's rennaissance year for movies. Who could ask for a better resume addition than the THREE-movie (at least) combo he's got coming out in 2012? I suspect each will, in its own way, showcase his unique ability to make stuff that is both entertaining and intelligent.
I for one welcome our new hollywood overlord.
It remains a source of much irritation to me that Whedon's huge contribution to Toy Story, one of the most important film properties in cinema, remains largely ignored when discussing his career, or the movies themselves.
Andy Dufresne | January 18, 13:50 CET


I'm probably a horrible Whedonite, but just how "big" was Joss's contribution again? As I understood it, he was a contributing writer on Toy Story but his efforts were more on par with the script doctoring work he did on other films where I'm pretty sure his official credit was kind of miminal to non-existant. Though I have also read he was on the Oscar ballot for Toy Story's nomination for writing with the other writers and big people from Pixar...
Alternately: "Can Joss Whedon take a break from a world where he disappears for years on end to produce roughly two hours of entertainment?"

I understand Avengers is a big deal for Joss and I do wish him well with it, but personal viewing habits... I've never been able to get as invested in a movie that's here and gone as much as an ongoing TV show. A show on cable where he has the freedom to create the story he wants to make... yes please.
Maybe its just me BringItOn5x5 but when I really fall in love with a movie I can watch it over and over and learn new details every time without ever getting bored. I hope Joss' new movies will be on that level.

Preferably I hope Joss does like J.J. Abrams and produces new shows along with producing movies and directing a new movie every few years.

[ edited by eddy on 2012-01-18 17:38 ]
Am I the only one who feels a bit bad and/or sad that seemingly most (if not all) media outlets online or otherwise are making it seem like "The Cabin in the Woods" is a solely Joss Whedon production, when it really is just as much a Drew Goddard project (seeing as how he both co-WROTE and DIRECTED it)?
Not you're not the only one.
Re Toy Story - joss shares screenwriter credits for it.
Based on interviews with Joss and Pixar, it seems like the biggest thing his draft of the Toy Story script did was flesh out and give dimension to the characters.

And as gossi said, in the film itself he's listed as one of three writers.
Even the recent Liongate poll on FB refers to Joss as Csbin's writer. Not co-writer.
Yeah, it's often mentioned he overhauled Woody from being a complete ass into someone quite likeable. But it's still a Pixar baby. Also.
BringItOn5x5 - I get what you mean. Massive film fan that I am, what I like about Joss (dialogue, character development, ensemble casts, the horrible pain and suffering,) generally are more at home in the land of the sofa than the flappy chair.

Having said that, the experimental nature of 'The Cabin in the Woods' and 'Much Ado' make them very appealing. Hopefully 2013 will see him taking himself to a cable station though.
Andrew Stanton gave an interview to Jeff Goldsmith in which he says Joss Whedon essentially parachuted in and gave them a masterclass in story and structure. He focussed the script and laid the track for the direction of the movie once he left. Worth noting that Alien Resurrection is still name checked more.
Andy Dufresne - do you know if that Andrew Stanton interview online? I'd like to read it. :)
Andrew Stanton gave an interview to Jeff Goldsmith in which he says Joss Whedon essentially parachuted in and gave them a masterclass in story and structure. He focussed the script and laid the track for the direction of the movie once he left. Worth noting that Alien Resurrection is still name checked more.
Andy Dufresne | January 18, 21:26 CET


Well, I would imagine that more people fuss and fret over films where the writing is considered poor or about the writing of live action films vs. cartoons. I know I have spent more time lamenting about the poor quality of scripts for live-action TV and movies than I have ever remarked upon re: animation.
This interview here gives the most comprehensive review of Joss's contribution to Toy Story that I've read:

http://www.natoonline.org/infocus/05augustseptember/whedonuncut.htm

And they sent me the script and it was a shambles, but the story that Lasseter had come up with was, you know, the toys are alive and they conflict. The concept was gold. It was just right there. And that’s the dream job for a script doctor: a great structure with a script that doesn’t work. [...] I went up to Pixar [..] four months before it got greenlit, and completely overhauled the script. [...] It was not a polish; it was a rewrite and with animation you’re writing with every visual.

I re-watched Toy Story a few months ago, and there are definitely distinctly Joss-touches, especially in the dialogue.

And to be completely honest, this is how I am looking forward to The Avengers: 10% omg cool new superhero movie, 90% OMG Joss's future livelihood in mainstream Hollywood depends on the success of this movie, so it better be completely awesome and make a ton of money.
Even though Jennifer's Body was by Diablo Cody not Joss, it was so Joss that I'm counting it as one of his, too.
will.bueche, I consider the extremely underrated Jennifer's Body to have heavy heavy Whedon influence. God I love that movie. Complete shame it was so horribly marketed and misrepresented.
I wish Body would show up on Netflix streaming.
Think about "Speed". Joss was brought in to smooth out plot points and basically did all the dialogue. (When Wikipedia is back up, can check the movie page and Joss' info.) When I rewatched the movie recently, I realized that most of the reasons why love that movie, instead of just liking it, had Joss' fingerprints all over it. (Even the killing of Harry Temple.)
Whoever came up with the little alien toys deferring to the Great Claw In The Sky as a deity is a genius. Someone asked about that in an interview and it was not Joss.
Sunfire, you are a mind reader. I was just re-reading the In Focus 2005 interview where Joss mentions the aliens.
"I think I spent more time explaining that I didn’t come up with that, than anything else."

I also found this gem in the article:
Given how you seem to embrace ensembles, does Marvel’s “Avengers” project over at Paramount offer any particular appeal?
"Y’know, the thing about the X-Men is they have a coherent core. The Avengers to me is tough. I wouldn’t approach The Avengers, I wouldn’t approach the Fantastic Four. The X-Men are all born of pain, and pain is where I hang my hat."
Haha, nice find OneTeV. That's very funny. And it lines up pretty nicely with what Joss has said all along, that these are people who don't belong together (and that he spent a long time deciding whether to take the job). Good stuff.

Every couple of years, I find the In Focus interview again, and every single time I'm wowed by how thorough and informative and awesome it is.
You know, Joss not getting credit for Toy Story doesn't bother me really. There are hundreds of script doctors/rewriters in Hollywood who get little or no credit for anything they do, much less than JW. Also as mentioned these days it is Joss's name which is more likely to outclipse his co-writers' who deserve similiar recognition. Also despite the awesome rewrite of the final script, TS has always been more Pixar than anything, even John Lassiter gets forgotten in many articles on thid franchise. (And the sequels were both awesome despite zero JW involvement as far as we know.)

On topic, the Avengers will certainly be huge, although the vast majority of film goers won't care who wrote/directed the film, but hopefully will allow Joss to secure funding to projects that can't be on the micro scale. But is "from the director of The Avengers" really going to work with his personal passion projects?

CITW? Horror is it's own genre, I hope it will be a hit because it's a more Whedony project in general than Avengers, but it's harder to see which doors will open up "non horror" after that.

I'm with those who want for another TV show in the next few years, although I'm not hopeful on that front.
Well, Joss did get official credit for Toy Story, which is why we can call him an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and all. It's Speed that he was pushed out of credit for.

But is "from the director of The Avengers" really going to work with his personal passion projects?

I think getting The Avengers is going to be huge for Joss professionally. In this 2010 interview, Joss talks about how he almost gave up on working in Hollywood, post-Dollhouse:

"Honestly, this year with my career, I've been going, OK, is it over? Are they done with me and is it time for me to start doing really small or make a graceful exit? Because I'm OK. I have my family, I love to write, I'll always write, they can't stop me doing that.

"But maybe I'm not going to get my shot to reach a mass audience. But then I got The Avengers. So, clearly, I'm an idiot.”


-- he goes on to call The Avengers as the job “I've waited for my whole life.” I actually think that had it not come along, we would have a lesser chance of Joss on our television. He had one step out the door, ready to pursue Internet and micro-indies and while that would be awesome, I want Joss Whedon on my television and giant silver screen.

If The Avengers succeeds, artistically and at the box office, Joss will be able to write his own ticket and Hollywood will be persuaded to fund his passion projects. Just like Nolan made the Batman movies in order to get the ability to make Inception, or Abrams the Trek and MI3 movies to make Super 8, Joss will be able to make his passion projects inside the Hollywood system rather than go the self-funded, indie route.

And let's pray to whatever deities we believe in that his next television show will be on cable.
I would prefer Joss return to television, of all the possible options. But when the possible options include pumping out micro-film after micro-film (hey that's a word that means something else), doing web shows with Warren Ellis, and occasionally helming a mega-Blockbuster...

Truly, this is proof that we do not live in the darkest timeline.
I'm really curious to see what he does with indie films, personally. Doesn't mean I wouldn't be pretty excited about a new tv show, but I'm really intrigued by the microstudio. New territory, new creative options. In terms of bliss-following it sounds like a pretty direct path from A to awesome. And in a post writers' strike climate it feels very subversive.

If I was Hollywood that sort of thing would be the source of my sleeplessness, actually. Well that and people finding Google and Wikipedia more credible on SOPA/PIPA than Chris Dodd.
I'm really curious to see what he does with indie films, personally.

Me too. Anything he does, I will be interested in. But with The Avengers, he'll be able to do both! Do Hollywood -- make movies and maybe go back to serialized television -- and micro-budget projects as well. It's kind of wonderful the creative renaissance he's being going through: Much Ado, In Your Eyes, then he confirmed that one of his immediate post-blockbuster projects will be Wastelanders w/ Warren Ellis! I'm just honestly excited that Joss is excited about creating.

This is indeed not the darkest timeline.
I think Joss is interested in doing challenging projects that are meaningful to him in a way only he understands. My sincere hope is that he continues down that path because, can Joss Whedon finally conquer the feature film world to me carries the whiff of "that upstart TV show/comic book dude finally climbed the hill but will he be good enough?" Excuse me for being crude for a moment, but I never got the feeling Joss ever gave a shit about conquering the feature film world. Do you have to conquer the feature film world to be a gigantic kick-ass artist? Not in his case because he's doing just fine. I'd be down with semi- to quarterly-conquerage with extra added freedom to produce any script he wants to write.
Not sure about conquering, but he has at least talked about wanting to make nice, big summer movies. Was it on the Serenity commentary maybe? I don't remember.
And they shall rename it "Whedonwood."

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