The relationship between the producer Bekmambetov and Universal has gone from strength to strength, with a new five-deal movie agreement for Screenlife-style movies. This follows a series of highly profitable collaborations such as Wanted, Unfriended and Searching.
Screenlife is a form of storytelling where the narrative unfolds entirely on smartphones and computer screens, rather than through traditional camera techniques. The technique also benefits is Universal by enabling it to make movies on a minimal budget, which is especially important while social distancing is in place.
This relationship between Bekmambetov and Universal followed the director’s debut release Wanted, which was highly successful, grossing a whopping $342M worldwide. As such, a sequel was always likely. Bekmambetov is so keen on the ScreenLife technique that he always wanted to use it on this sequel, saying:
“Maybe do the sequel in Screenlife. I cannot imagine an assassin in today’s world would run with a gun. Why? He will use drones, he will use computer technology, probably. You don’t need to bend bullets anymore. You need to bend ideas.”
Bekmambetov has certainly been doing that with Screenlife, a format that unexpectedly has proven very conducive to a lockdown scenario. While Hollywood productions have been closed since March, he has produced five movies during the COVID-19 lockdown, while other Hollywood movies have had to be postponed to later this year. As he explains:
“It is a very organic production process, and what we learned in the past few months is we are the only production technology allowing us to work during the restrictions,” he said. “My actor is in London and I can record his screen from Los Angeles, and he can act and communicate with another actor who is in Sydney, in front of the screen.”
Bekmambetov has adapted to the digital universe much more efficiently than other directors, enabling him to bring a new perspective and discrete voice to all that he does. Donna Langley, the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman, had backed Timur’s ideas by bringing his Screenlife films to cinemas.
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