The Wachowskis’ latest, Jupiter Ascending opened this past weekend, and the results were not good. Coming in third in the weekly box office race, it only earned $19 million (with a cost of $175 million plus), and a critical lashing following a premiere at Sundance didn’t help matters. While this doesn’t seem to be dampening their enthusiasm one bit, the filmmaking siblings think their days of $100 million plus budgets are over. But that doesn’t mean they’re imagination is getting any smaller.
Talking to the Wall Street Journal, Lana Wachowski addressed their ambition, saying, “Everyone says, ‘Why can’t you be simpler?’ We’re drawn toward difficult subjects, like the disparity of rich and poor,” “We’ve been lucky. People at studios have been interested in our crazy, strange brand of complexity. And we’ve been allowed to keep making them. Will that continue? Probably not.”
Her brother Andy adds, “But it was a good run.”
For now, the siblings have turned their attention to serialized, episodic projects, developing the new series Sense8 for Netflix with Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski. The series is a globe-spanning affair that has filmed all across the world, and follows eight individuals connected by a psychic link and being hunted by nefarious forces. Thematically and scope wise, it sounds like exactly what you expect from the siblings, and maybe they’ve found a new medium.
Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, believes this is a better mode of expression for the directors, offering their expansive storytelling a broader canvas with more room to work. And he backs this up by comparing the show to an expansive, four-hour cut of their sprawling, underperforming Cloud Atlas (which they directed with Tom Tykwer).
Talking to Deadline he says, “It’s the best four hours of anything we’ve done [talking about Sense8]. Their film reviews have been brutal, and everything after The Matrix didn’t go well, but if you look at the earlier cuts of their films before they had to jam them down to 120 minutes, it’s amazing. There’s a four-hour cut of Cloud Atlas that will blow you away.”
So there’s a four-hour version of Cloud Atlas out there somewhere. Maybe this will become the stuff of legend, like that five-hour work print of Apocalypse Now with the all-Doors soundtrack.
Sarandos continues talking about Sense8, adding, “From a budget standpoint and a running time, it’s every bit as big, if not bigger, than their feature films.”
Jupiter Ascending is currently in theaters and it’s weird as shit, while Sense8 drops this May.