Plan B Entertainment Aims High This Awards Season

Thanks to the whims of the movie gods, production company Plan B Entertainment has seen its three high-profile Oscar contenders debut almost simultaneously: “Women Talking” (UA via MGM), “Blonde” (Netflix) and “She Said” (Universal).

Dede Gardner – one of the three Plan B partners along with Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt – narrates Variety: “I didn’t think it would happen this way. COVID was a big driver where things backed up and then happened all at once. But I don’t think it’s a mistake. If films are alive and kicking, they are in conversation with what is happening in culture. These three are all in the conversation, and I’m grateful for the timing of it all.”

“Women Talking”, in which Sarah Polley directs and adapts the book by Miriam Toews, is about women in a religious sect who discuss how to deal with the physical and psychological abuse of their collective. “Blonde” is Andrew Dominik’s look at Marilyn Monroe. “She Said,” directed by Marie Schrader, follows the two female journalists who investigate Harvey Weinstein’s predatory practices.

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Can they be described as feminist films?

Gardner says, “I hope that everything we do is feminist, but I hope that they’re first and foremost humanistic. They’re all meant to be illustrations of power, isolation, fear—and I don’t think those things are gender specific .”

Plan B, which began in 2001, is hard to define. It’s a boutique business of sorts, but its success is grand: six Oscar nominations for best picture, wins for “12 Years a Slave” and “Moonlight.” Its releases include hits such as “World War Z”, “The Big Short”, “Vice”, “Killing Them Softly”, “The Tree of Life”, “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Selma”.

Plan B has a first-look deal with WB and a second-look deal with MGM. In December, it finalized a deal to sell a majority stake to European media conglomerate Mediawan.

It’s hard to imagine the Plan B trio pitching movie franchises or selling merchandising with movie financiers.

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Gardner says, “I have so much admiration for people who know how to think that way. But that would be thinking about something other than the story, and I don’t know if I’m good at it.

“If you’re given the opportunity and the resources to tell stories, you’d best make them stories that haven’t been heard, and voices that haven’t been represented, and relationships that need to be explored.”

She and Kleiner do not share duties. “We’re both across everything. We’ve been together for 20 years and I think we bring different things to the table; we can finish each other’s sentences.

“Under normal circumstances, we share it all. But with COVID, we had more things going on, so we covered different things because we couldn’t travel back and forth.” “Blonde” began production in 2019; “Women” and “She Said” recorded in summer 2021.

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Dominik adapted Joyce Carol Oates’ novel “Blonde” and directed it. The film was enthusiastically received at the Venice Film Festival in September, but the reaction Stateside was sharply divided.

“I found the vitriol super confusing,” says Gardner. “I think the accusations are inaccurate. We have lived for decades with this person at the center of our joy; the film suggests that she did not share this pleasure. And the film asks about our complicity as viewers.

“Andrew and Ana are remarkable. Some have accused Andrew of not liking Marilyn Monroe, but no one cares anymore, or else why do this? Anyone who reads the book or knows him would know this is not true.”

She shrugs: “You have no control over the reactions; you are in control of your intentions and I know what they were.”

It seems likely that the film may be “rediscovered” and re-evaluated in a few years.


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