Charlie Kaufman’s Frank Or Francis Is Only 10 Million Dollars Away


Of all the recent comedic actors who’ve become their own brand, of sorts, Jack Black is by far my least favorite. Yes, I put him below Adam Sandler, mostly on account of pretending Sandler’s more recent films just don’t exist.

During my teenage years, I loved Tenacious D, but now that I’ve grown up his shtick has become tiresome. In nearly every performance of his, he comes across as simply trying way too hard. Given the right role, though, Black’s shtick can be made to work. Look at his bit role on Community or his starring role in The School of Rock, for exampleIf he’s not the focus, or if the writer is successfully able to reign his shtick in, it really can work.

Which is why I, along with many others, was eagerly anticipating seeing how he would fit in the world of Charlie Kaufman with Frank or FrancisKaufman is the same writer who managed to make double the dose of Nicolas Cage a pro as opposed to a con in Adaptation. He also revealed to the world the mostly untapped acting talents of Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If anyone can make Black bearable, it’s Kaufman.

Problem is, Frank or Francis is still 10 million dollars away from being realized, says Black in an interview with Vulture.

“If anyone out there reading this can scrape together a cool 10 mil,” Black says, “this thing can happen.”

With a figure so small, I can’t help but to wonder why Kaufman hasn’t turned to Kickstarter like he did for his upcoming stop-motion animated film Anomalisa, which made more than double its target of $200,000. The money raised for Anomalisa wouldn’t even cover one-twentieth of the 10 million needed to make Frank or Francis a reality, but it was a niche product, much like most of Kaufman’s films.

With but a few exceptions, stop-motion has never been a box-office darling, and the other names involved in the project, Dan Harmon, former Community showrunner, and Dino Stamatopoulus, known for his role as Starburns on Community, weren’t exactly big draws either.

Frank or Francis, however, has what could only be considered an all-star cast. Among others, it’s tapped to star the aforementioned Jack Black, Nicolas Cage, Steve Carell and Elizabeth Banks. Only Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind boasts a cast on par with that of Frank or Francis, its stars including Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst. It also happened to be the most profitable of all of his scripts, bringing in a little over 34 million at the box office.

Raising 10 million (less than a third of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘s box office take), in order to start production on Frank or Francis doesn’t seem completely out of the realm of possibility. It’s worth a shot or, at the very least, a second thought.

Really, read this piece from Rope of Silicon detailing, in-depth, the inner-workings of the currently stagnating film and tell me you wouldn’t be the least bit interested in seeing it get made, if not also in helping make that happen.

Comments (7)

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  1. Robertsays:

    How exactly did the writer (as opposed to the director) of Eternal Sunshine reveal the acting talents of Jim Carrey, or the writer of The School of Rock reign in Jack Black? They had nothing to do with the performances.

    1. Van Iblissays:

      Because he wrote the parts and dialogue and character that allowed them to thrive.

    2. Travis Jarrod Smithsays:

      Like Van said, without his writing, the characters would be nothing. The director plays a large part, obviously, but even the best director can’t make something out of nothing if the writing just isn’t there.

  2. Jensays:

    “Only Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind boasts a cast on par with that of Frank or Francis”…you’re nuts. Synecdoche, NY had Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Catherine Keener, Dianne Wiest, Emily Watson, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Hope Davis. Adaptation had Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton and Judy Greer. Just saying…this upcoming film has the weakest cast (Synecdoche has the best), but Kaufman is my favorite screenwriter and I hope it gets the money it needs.

    1. Travis Jarrod Smithsays:

      I wasn’t talking so much about collective talent as I was how big of a draw the cast members are. While it may not be on the same level as some of the others talent wise, I don’t think actors such as Catherine Keener (who is also set to star in Frank or Francis), for example, are as big a box-office draw as others such as Steve Carell.

      That all being said, I was admittedly a bit quick to heap such praise on Frank or Francis’s cast. With how easy it is to get lost in his stories (in a good way), it’s somewhat easy to forget the casts he’s managed to assemble. Like Woody Allen or Wes Anderson, his films don’t exactly hit it big at the box-office, but you can tell pretty much any actor would love to work with him.

  3. Van Iblissays:

    “Dino Stamatopoulus, known for his role as Starburns on Community, weren’t exactly big draws either.”

    Uhh…no. Dino is known as the genius behind Moral Orel.

    1. Travis Jarrod Smithsays:

      I consider myself a fan of Moral Orel, and I realize it has a rather strong cult following, but I’d say Community gave him more exposure. At least more mainstream exposure.

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