James Gunn to Lead DC, Werewolf By Night is fine, Mia Goth Flashes Pearly Whites

James Gunn gets the perfect job; Hollywood’s secret grumbles about diversity and inclusion; Werewolf by Night is fine. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

James Gunn: James Gunn and Peter Safran have been named as co-chairs of DC Studios, a new division at Warner Bros. that will replace the often-struggling DC Films. Gunn will handle creative, and Safran, a former manager and producer who counted Gunn among his clients, will focus on the business and production aspects. My very in-depth talk with James Gunn when he released The Suicide Squad makes me believe he’s perfect for this — a hardcore comics fan first, but also a daring filmmaker who blends an indie, risky sensibility with the ability to land big-budget projects like Guardians of the Galaxy. Great decision.

James Gunn The Suicide Squad 2

James Gunn in our recent profile “James Gunn Doesn’t Need to Shout”

Mia Goth’s Pearly Whites: If I chose the Oscars, Ana de Armas and Mia Goth would be in a very close race for Best Actress for their roles in Blonde and Pearl, respectively. Here’s Mia Goth speaking at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival about how her creepy, twitchy smile was not in the script.

Sigourney Weaver: The New York Times has an intriguing interview with James Cameron and his Avatar: The Way of Water cast. My favorite part was this section (we picked it up, and have no paywall) where Sigourney Weaver, 73, talks about playing a 14-year-old in the film.

Pro-Life and Pro-Choice: Speaking of the Times, here’s an excellent short film it made about a St. Louis pastor, the Rev. Clinton L. Stancil, who is personally pro-life but also believes decisions about women’s bodies aren’t his to make. His talk has wisdom, empathy and nuance that you often hear in one-on-one discussions with your friends and family, but rarely see in news stories or social media.

More New York Times: No, I do not get a commission from them. And sometimes I’m not a fan. But I think this Times piece about the state of the industry, five years after #MeToo, is a must-read. It’s about the quiet backlash after years of Hollywood at least pretending to care about increased diversity and inclusion. There’s been some real progress, the story notes, especially in policies to stop sexual harassment. But reporter Brooks Barnes also notes backsliding and compassion fatigue.

An Excerpt: “‘For three years, we hired nothing but women and people of color,’ said a senior film executive, who like many leaders in the industry is a white male. He added that he did not think some of them were able to do the jobs they got. In hushed conversations over lunch at Toscana Brentwood and cocktails at the San Vicente Bungalows, some powerful producers and agents have started to question the commercial viability of inclusion-minded films and shows.”

Also: The article also notes, “There is a risk that ‘go woke, go broke’ jokes could calcify into conventional Hollywood wisdom.”

Reality Check: As a white male, I hear some occasional griping from other white males (though less than you might expect) about how they’re supposedly losing jobs to women and people of color they consider less qualified. I tell them that anecdotally, at least two-thirds of the pitches I receive (from films seeking editorial coverage) are made by white males. This anecdotal experience is in line with the exhaustively researched UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, which finds that while people of color represent 43 percent of the U.S. population, they represent just 30.2 percent of film directors and 32.3 percent of film writers. And while women represent half of the U.S. population, they account for just 21.8 percent of film directors and 33.5 percent of film writers. Obviously the inequities don’t begin and end with Hollywood, but those are the numbers.

May I Editorialize? Griping about your lot in life “over lunch at Toscana Brentwood and cocktails at the San Vicente Bungalows” kind of undercuts your complaints. What a great sneaky detail by Mr. Barnes.

Comment of the Day: “After seeing Halloween Ends all I can say is, if there is a God, David Gordon Green will not make any more movies. What a disaster. Shame on Jamie Lee Curtis as well. Halloween H20 will always be the definitive end of the Halloween franchise for me.” — David, commenting on our interview with David Gordon Green, who is definitely making more movies.

Werewolf by Night: My Low Key podcast co-host Keith Dennie has this low-key endorsement of the new Disney+ special Werewolf by Night: “an enjoyable little flick.” (Yes, Disney+, you can use that in your FYC campaign.) We all liked the aesthetics and acting a lot — as well as the look of Man-Thing — but weren’t blown away. You can listen on Apple or here:

Main image: Werewolf by Night, based on a comic book James Gunn definitely read