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This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Brit Marling in ‘I Origins’.
Fox crosses $3b in worldwide box office grosses ‘I’ prequel to sequel that doesn’t exist

Over the last decade, major Hollywood studios have hurried to build a fleet of franchise films, push them into international waters and bet that the export to distant shores will return the fresh riches of eager moviegoers who don’t mind dubbed-over voices scattered amid triumphant, digital action scenes. Prequels and sequels rule the corporate industry, leaving it to independent filmmakers like “Another Earth” writer/director Michael Cahill to provide the original, vital ideas that refresh the medium. With “I Origins,” a film pondering the coexistence of science and faith, Cahill continues to do just that - even if “I Origins,” which won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at Sundance, just happens to secretly be a prequel itself.

“There is a sequel to this one,” Cahill told TheWrap earlier this month in New York. “It’s actually just called ‘I.’ I originally wrote a movie called ‘I,’ and I sold it to Searchlight when ‘Another Earth’ came out. And before we made ‘I,’ we were preparing and all this stuff, but we weren’t yet ready to make it, and I had this backstory, and I said, it’s like an origin story. That movie, ‘I,’ it takes place 20 years in the future, so like 2035-2040. And it’s very expensive, and we were trying to figure out how to do it. It was challenging to try to figure it out, and the process was slow.”


Though his movies are thoughtful meditations on reality, Cahill doesn’t like to wait long to make them. “I was getting so eager and antsy and I wanted to make something so badly, because now two years had gone by since ‘Another Earth’ and all I was doing was writing. I wanted to get into production on something,” he explained. “So I asked Searchlight if it would be alright if I did this prequel to a sequel that doesn’t exist yet, and they were so kind and so gracious.” The catch was that Searchlight owned the rights to all prequels and sequels to the unproduced “I.” Cahill wanted the right to make what would become “I Origins” on his own, and sell it again after taking it to festivals - “super indie,” as he called it. “It was their faith in me and it’s rare, it’s ballsy on their behalf.” So Cahill wrote the film, teamed up with Marling once again, signed up Michael Pitt as the leading man and then went to work, filming mostly in New York City and, later on, in India.


The movie features Pitt and Marling as rigidly atheist scientists who seek to find a way to build an eye on a sightless species from scratch, thus disproving the creationist argument that the eye is too complex. The movie starts as a love story and then morphs into a thriller, propelled always by the push and pull of faith and logic, with tragedy shifting world views over time. The message is both micro and macro, aimed at the renewed war in the United States over issues like science education and contraception, as well as Cahill’s way of working out his own mixed emotions. He was raised Irish Catholic, “100 percent and confirmed,” he says laughing, but notes that if he wasn’t a filmmaker, he might be a scientist.

“Since the scientific revolution, science and spirituality have been on two sides of a battlefield, from burning astronomers at the stake to the wars over what can be taught in schools these days,” he explained. “Science and spirituality have not really gotten along so well. And I say spirituality as a placeholder for any religion, whatever it might be, something more metaphysical I guess. Every single character in this film represents a part of my mind that I feel is fully sort of engaged and represents a certain dialogue that I have in my own mind about the whole thing. I do believe that they can co-exist in a really beautiful way.” Fox Searchlight certainly had faith in Cahill; the company ended up buying “I Origins” at Sundance three years after buying the rights the first time.


NEW YORK: Universal’s Helter Skelter sequel, “The Purge: Anarchy,” made away with $2.6 million in 2194 theaters at the last week’s box office, lower than last June’s original opening night but still a solid evening for a $9 million film. “The Purge” was a surprise smash last year, earning $3.4 million on last Thursday night on its way to a $16.7 million last Friday and $34 million opening weekend. Ultimately, the Ethan Hawke-starring movie, about a future American in which all crime was legal for one 12-hour stretch per year, made $64 million in the United States, and $89 million internationally. The new film stars Frank Grillo and is more focused on a perverted version of the populist rage that fueled Occupy Wall Street and politics today, and has largely scored better reviews, with a 55 percent on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the original’s 38 percent. Meanwhile, Sony’s raunchy comedy “Tape,” which features Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz as a couple who somehow send their copulation selfie to all their friends via cloud technology, earned $1.1 million in 2457 theaters after scoring routinely negative reviews. Sony notes that it’s hard to compare comedies; “The Heat” made $1 million in 10 pm showings last year on its way to a $39 million opening. Both of these films may fall to the second week of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the well-reviewed sequel that won last weekend and was up to $90 million domestic and $123 million worldwide after five days in theaters.

Twentieth Century Fox has become the first studio to cross the $3 billion mark in worldwide box office grosses this year, the studio has said. This milestone was reached in near record time, second only to 2010, when Fox crossed that number on June 30. It comes on the heels of Fox being the first studio to gross $1 billion dollars in domestic box office for the year, on July 13. Internationally, Fox crossed the $2 billion mark on July 16 — the first studio to reach this milestone in 2014 and a record sixth consecutive year and the eighth time in the company’s history. Each of Fox’s production divisions have delivered. Fox Searchlight Pictures’ “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has earned more than $168 million worldwide since opening in March. In April, Fox delivered a pair of hits with Blue Sky Studio’s “Rio 2” ($490 million worldwide to date) and “The Other Woman” ($195 million global gross so far). In May came “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which has become the highest-grossing picture in that franchise, amassing more than $735 million globally. Last week, it became the ninth title in the studio’s history to exceed $700 million worldwide. In June, the studio released Fox 2000’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” which had a $12 million production budget and has grossed a jaw-dropping $243 million worldwide. That same month, Fox released “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” the animated family film from DreamWorks Animation, which has earned over $366 million in worldwide box office, with many international markets yet to open. (RTRS)

By Jordan Zakarin

By: Jordan Zakarin

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