The word “brave” gets tossed around too easily in Hollywood.
It might apply to stars tackling issues the entire industry supports, like removing President Donald Trump from office. It also refers to actors who obscure their beauty for Oscar-bait roles.
Want true Hollywood bravery? Try making a movie about a teen who not only survives a high school shooting but fights back a la “Die Hard.”
That’s the story behind both “Run Hide Fight” and its indie studio, Rebeller. Director Kyle Rankin’s film, tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release, follows a student who takes on the ghouls behind a school shooting, yippee-kay-yay style.
Major studios wouldn’t touch the “Run Hide Fight” screenplay after the February 2018 Parkland High School massacre. Rebeller saw a compelling story and jumped in with both feet.
This indie studio, a branch of the equally rogue Cinestate, doesn’t have time for pearl clutching. It embraces “outlaw” cinema, stories that bounce from genre to genre without playing by the rules.
That’s refreshing at a time when key Hollywood players genuflect to the Woke Crowd. Just ask Scarlett Johansson, the industry’s most bankable actress. She took a gig playing a trans character in “Rub and Tug” but quit after social justice activists said the part should have gone to a trans performer.
Johansson’s apology read like a ransom note. (It’s worth noting that film project remains in limbo without its bankable star).
Kevin Hart recently unveiled a new docu-series on Netflix where he apologies for not apologizing better after his Oscar hosting scandal.
Imagine how many challenging films don’t get made these days because the subject matter is deemed “problematic.” We’ll never know.
RebellerMedia.com’s editor in chief, Sonny Bunch, says the film industry has grown “stifling and conformist.” The new studio offers something different. It won’t be for everyone – consider the hard R nature of previous Cinestate releases like “Dragged Across Concrete.”
Team Rebeller also won’t do any Apology Tours for its films.
Cinestate founder Dallas Sonnier “has my back,” says Bunch, who previously served as the Washington Free Beacon’s film critic.
“There are always going to be people who [will] be upset about the movies we make. They push buttons, they push buttons intentionally, in some ways. But that’s because art is designed to provoke a response … to push people’s buttons if you’re doing it well.”
That won’t necessarily stave off the outrage mob, a fact Bunch acknowledges.
“When they come for us, and they will, we just have to say, ‘what are you gonna do? Are you gonna fire Dallas Sonnier, get rid of the boss who runs all this stuff?’ That’s who you have to get rid of if you wanna shut us down. He fears no one.”
That protection extends to social media.
“I’ve never felt worried about being fired for an errant tweet,” Bunch says.
So how can Rebeller compete with Disney fare, from Pixar to the latest “Star Wars” adventure?
“You keep the budget low, you pre-sell rights based on the stars,” Bunch says. “Then you try to get it in theaters, and if you can’t get it into theaters … you move DVDs and Blu-rays on the shelves of WalMart and Target and you move [Video on Demand] sales. VOD is a very big part of our business model and has been a pretty big success on movies like ‘Bone Tomahawk.’”
Cinestate staple S. Craig Zahler, who directed “Concrete,” epitomizes the company’s ethos. His films, including “Brawl on Cell Block 99,” display fine craftsmanship, recognizable stars and material that pushes beyond standard storytelling tropes.
Zahler refuses labels, even if some far-left scribes dub him an auteur for the ”MAGA crowd.” The evidence suggests otherwise.
“Dragged Across Concrete” is a prime example. Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn play rogue cops who share racist sentiments on, and off, the job. They risk their lives while bemoaning aspects of police culture they wish they could change.
Neither character is a true hero, nor are they villains in the mustache-twirling sense.
Rebeller isn’t Team Democrat or Republican. The studio doesn’t care about our increasingly tribal times. They’re telling stories, period. And, in our increasingly political age, being apolitical can be the bravest stance of all.