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February 5, 2023
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With ‘Women Talking,’ ‘Blonde’ and ‘She Said,’ Plan B Entertainment Aims High This Awards Season

With ‘Women Talking,’ ‘Blonde’ and ‘She Said,’ 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 nearly 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 — tells Variety: “I didn’t think it would happen this way. COVID was big driver, with things backing up and then happening all at once. But I don’t think it’s a mistake. If movies are alive and kicking, they’re in a conversation with what’s happening inside culture. These three are all in the conversation, and I’m appreciative of the timing of it all.”

“Women Talking,” with Sarah Polley directing and adapting the book by Miriam Toews, is about women in a religious sect debating how to handle the physical and mental abuse on their collective. “Blonde” is Andrew Dominik’s look at Marilyn Monroe. “She Said,” directed by Marie Schrader, follows the two women reporters investigating the predatory behavior of Harvey Weinstein.

Could they be described as feminist movies?

Gardner says, “I hope everything we make is feminist, but I hope they’re humanist first and foremost. All are 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 kind of a boutique company, but its success is big-scale: six best pic Oscar nominations, winning for “12 Years a Slave” and “Moonlight.” Its releases include such hits 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 at WB and a second-look with MGM. In December, it closed a deal sell a majority stake to European media conglom Mediawan.

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

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 that I’m good at that.

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

She and Kleiner don’t divide duties. “We’re both across everything. We’ve been together 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 multiple 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” shot in summer 2021.

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

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

“Andrew and Ana are remarkable. Some have accused Andrew of not liking Marilyn Monroe, but nobody cares more, or why else do this? Anyone who reads the book or knows him would know this is not true.”

She shrugs, “You are not in control of reactions; you’re in control of your intentions and I know what they were.”

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

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