Good Morning, Midnight is George Clooney’s first collaboration with Netflix
Good Morning, Midnight is George Clooney’s first collaboration with Netflix Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Netflix snags massive new movie

George Clooney has become the latest A-lister taking his services and talent to Netflix amid increasing unrest over the streamer's influence in the movie-making eco-system.

The actor-writer-director will adapt the best-selling novel Good Morning, Midnight for the streaming giant, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Good Morning, Midnight, by Lily Brooks-Dalton, is a post-apocalyptic story following the parallel journeys of two scientists, one named Augustine, who refuses to leave his isolated outpost in the Arctic, and the other an astronaut named Sully who's trying to return from Jupiter.

Brooks-Dalton's book was named by many publications as one of the best fiction books of 2016.

Clooney will star as Augustine and direct the movie from a screenplay by Mark L. Smith (The Revenant). Good Morning, Midnight will be produced by Clooney and partner Grant Heslov's production company Smokehouse Pictures.

 

Good Morning, Midnight will be Clooney’s first film project in years Picture: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images
Good Morning, Midnight will be Clooney’s first film project in years Picture: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Smokehouse recently released Catch-22, a miniseries adaptation of Joseph Heller's war satire, on American streaming service Hulu (Catch-22 streams locally on Stan).

While Clooney produced and had a small supporting role in Catch-22, he hasn't been in front of the cameras on a feature film since Money Monster in 2016. The last film he directed was 2017's Suburbicon with Matt Damon, which was poorly received.

Good Morning, Midnight will be Clooney's seventh movie as director, having started with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in 2002.

Clooney may not have been busy on set in recent years, but his social calendar seems to be full. This week, he and wife Amal were spotted hanging out with fellow luminaries Barack and Michelle Obama at the Clooneys' Italian villa in Lake Como.

The two power couples even dropped in on a nearby friend, Bono.

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Barack Obama and George Clooney are buddies Picture: Matteo Bazzi/ANSA via AP
Barack Obama and George Clooney are buddies Picture: Matteo Bazzi/ANSA via AP

Clooney is the latest Hollywood A-lister to sign up with Netflix despite the growing controversy around the streaming service and whether it's driving or contributing to a slowdown in box office takings in the US.

Clooney joins the likes of Martin Scorsese, Alfonso Cuaron, Steven Soderbergh, Ava DuVernay, Guillermo del Toro and Joel and Ethan Coen who have made projects with the streamer.

Netflix traditionally doesn't release data on how many people have watched its content but has recently started to drip out favourable stats, including the (unaudited) claim 30 million accounts watched Adam Sandler's new comedy Murder Mystery in the first three days and 80 million watched Sandra Bullock's thriller Bird Box in the first four weeks.

Those are enticing numbers for filmmakers who want audiences to find and appreciate their work.

Earlier this year, Steven Spielberg questioned whether Netflix's distribution model - mostly avoiding a theatrical release - should disqualify its films from competing for an Oscar.

Netflix's insistence its original films be released at the same time on its platform as in cinemas, if it gets a cinematic release at all, violates the agreement studios have with cinema chains in the US over an exclusive window - in other words, a movie that comes out in a cinema can't be released as home entertainment for a number of months.

Bong Joon-ho’s Okja competed in the official competition at Cannes but riled up French cinema owners.
Bong Joon-ho’s Okja competed in the official competition at Cannes but riled up French cinema owners.

 

That ethos has also meant Netflix has run afoul of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival where the law states a movie released in French cinemas cannot be on a streaming platform for three years.

French cinema owners revolted when two Netflix films - Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories and Bong Joon-ho's Okja - were included in the official competition line-up at the 2017 festival. After festival organisers shut-out any films from competition that didn't have a French theatrical release, the American company has effectively boycotted Cannes in 2018 and 2019.

At the Sydney Film Festival earlier this month to promote his latest film, 2019 Cannes Palme d'Or winner Parasite, Bong said during an audience Q&A he loved working with Netflix on Okja and he would happily work with it again if it was to be more flexible on the theatrical release question.

 

Alfonso Cuaron won Oscars for Best Foreign Language, Best Director and Best Cinematography but not Best Picture Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Alfonso Cuaron won Oscars for Best Foreign Language, Best Director and Best Cinematography but not Best Picture Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

There was commentary around the Oscars earlier this year that Cuaron's masterpiece, Roma, which had the most nominations and was seen as a frontrunner for Best Picture, ultimately missed out on the top prize because of the Hollywood old guard's resistance to Netflix and what they see as the Silicon Valley upstart's threat to the traditional movie business.

Presently, the US box office in 2019 is lagging behind 2018 at the same point in the year. China, where Netflix doesn't operate, is expected to overtake the US as the world's biggest cinema market by 2022, according to Ampere Analysis, as reported by Business Insider.

In Australia, the box office has been dominated by franchise and big-event movies. The top three films for the year so far have been Avengers: Endgame at $83.02 million, Captain Marvel at $42.31 million and Aladdin at $29.05 million.

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