The Big Picture
- Michael Mann’s passion project, Ferrari, won’t have ties to major studios, instead being distributed by the independent studio NEON, which champions creative freedom.
- NEON has built a strong reputation in the indie film space, distributing acclaimed films like Parasite and I,Tonya, making them a respected partner.
- Mann acknowledges the struggle of writers in the industry and highlights the importance of Troy Kennedy Martin, who wrote the screenplay for Ferrari. The film delves into Enzo Ferrari’s tumultuous life, including a fatal accident and a legal battle.
One of the most-anticipated films of award season, Michael Mann‘s long-in-the-works passion project Ferrari has a lot working for it — an Academy Award-nominated director behind the camera in Mann who’s helmed classics like Heat and The Insider, a starry cast featuring award-winning actors Adam Driver and Penélope Cruz, and an intriguing story of a racing tycoon based on an acclaimed novel. Missing from that equation, however, is a big studio behind it. In a recent piece from Variety covering Ferrari, Heat 2, and Mann’s career in general, the director explained why his latest won’t have any ties to major studios.
Ferrari spent much of its development without a distributor attached to it. That was until earlier this year when the independent studio NEON picked it up for a December release in theaters. Considering that the film is a melodramatic tale of Enzo Ferrari and the dark times looming over his family as they prepare for the 1957 Mille Miglia, Mann felt it was a better fit away from a major studio. “The origins of the movie and the content of the screenplay and the movie that you saw do not fit into the kind of film that would be embraced by the conventional studio system,” he said. “It’s truly appropriate that it is an independent film being distributed by NEON, a very independent distributor.”
NEON has left a massive footprint in the indie film space. They are responsible for distributing acclaimed films like Parasite, I,Tonya, Triangle of Sadness, Moonage Daydream, and Infinity Pool in the U.S., becoming a standout among independent distributors. At a time when both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are on strike for fair wages and more protections, companies like NEON which champion creative freedom are all the more respected and desired as partners. For Mann, who was also around during the 1988 work stoppage and knows what it’s like to start from scratch, that fight against major studios is a very necessary one. “I think that the struggle is kind of late-stage capitalism. Writers are massively underpaid — even top feature-film writers. They all start with this. We begin with nothing, absolutely nothing.”
Mann Owes Much of Ferrari to the Efforts of Troy Kennedy Martin
Regarding the struggle of the WGA, Mann acknowledges the utmost importance of writers by highlighting Ferrari‘s Troy Kennedy Martin who penned the screenplay. “Troy and the screenplay, I changed it around quite a bit,” he added. “But the absolute foundation and the beating heart of this movie is what Troy did.”
Ferrari tracks the full turmoil of Enzo Ferrari’s life, from his infidelity and divorce from his wife, the grief that lingered between them regarding their deceased son, and the stress of the looming Mille Miglia. Tragedy would continue to haunt the racing tycoon when one of his own vehicles malfunctioned at the race, causing a fatal accident and sparking a lengthy legal battle with Ferrari. Mann doesn’t pull punches when depicting that horrific crash either, as he detailed how the film will punctuate its pulse-pounding racing scenes with a violent accident featuring severed limbs and torsos.
Ferrari arrives in theaters on December 25. Check out a previous interview with the film’s star Driver below.
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