Are you buying this ‘355’ film concept that Jessica Chastain is selling?

71st annual Cannes Film Festival

If Mark Wahlberg had an idea for a movie, he would call up one of the studios and they would give him $100 million to make it, no questions asked. But as we see time and time again, women are held to a different standard. Which is why Jessica Chastain assembled this crew of ladies at the Cannes Film Festival. This is Chastain’s dream-cast: Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o and herself. They’re going to make a movie together called 355, based on an idea/pitch that Chastain worked on with writer-director Simon Kinberg. But they don’t have buyers, which is why they’re in Cannes to pitch the movie together, before the film has even been made.

Hard to imagine there will be a hotter film package unveiled at Cannes next week than 355, a large-scale espionage film that Simon Kinberg will direct with an all-star international spy cast of Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing and Lupita Nyong’o. They’ll play international agents in a grounded, edgy action thriller that aims to alter a male-dominated genre with a true female ensemble, in the style of spy franchises The Bourne Identity, Mission: Impossible and James Bond. The script is by Theresa Rebeck. The hope is to launch a franchise.

The actresses will be on hand with Kinberg next week to pitch their vision to international buyers at the Majestic Hotel on the Croisette. FilmNation Entertainment will sell international and CAA Media Finance Group will rep North American and Chinese distribution rights. Freckle Films’ Chastain and Kelly Carmichael are producing with Kinberg and his Kinberg Genre banner.

Kinberg just directed and Chastain starred in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The idea for 355 came from Chastain, and she pitched it to him while they worked on that superhero film on which Kinberg made his feature directing debut. It didn’t take long for Chastain to get commitments from the filmmaker, and the actresses.

[From Deadline]

Chastain spoke to Deadline about the process of selling the film and how easy it’s been, but I keep thinking about Marky Mark and how much easier it would have been for HIM. He wouldn’t even need to come to Cannes. He would have just mentioned the project in passing to an executive and he would have instantly had a massive deal. As for this cast… yeah, I’ll watch Lupita in anything. But it does feel like Jessica was drawing names out of a hat, except not really. The casting of one Asian woman, one Spanish woman, one African woman, one French woman and one white American woman just feels like… ugh, I can’t really think of the word. CB suggested “performative wokeness.” It feels like, patronizing towards the idea of inclusion? There’s authentic inclusion and then there’s just casting people by demographic.

71st annual Cannes Film Festival - 355 - Photocall

71st annual Cannes Film Festival

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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42 Responses to “Are you buying this ‘355’ film concept that Jessica Chastain is selling?”

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  1. WMGDtoo says:

    They all looks great. And I will see it if it gets made. They looks more badass than that Ocean 8 or whatever it’s called. Men do these movies all the time. At least it is not a reboot


    • Marie says:

      Agree with you on the “at least it is not a reboot” thought. Plus it’s about time Fan Bingbing goes global. That woman is seriously gorgeous and will slay us all with her fashion.

  2. Frizzy and frazzled says:

    “It feels like, patronizing towards the idea of inclusion? There’s authentic inclusion and then there’s just casting people by demographic.”

    I get what you’re saying. How could she have approached this differently? I was trying to think if any of the actresses are suited toward action and I realize that it’s rare outside of television to see women in action-y roles!

    • Anners says:

      I see that point, too, however I was really excited that in a movie about international spies they chose women who looked international (if that makes sense). I’m tired of spy movies where everyone is a white (usually British or American), monolingual male. It’s nice to see women, especially women of colour, get some kick a$$ action roles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for good things.

    • Pamela says:

      I have only ever seen Fan on gossip sites for her gorgeous looks/style– but honestly, the rest of them are a dream cast. Sure, it does come across as though someone purposefully picked these actors for their genetic make up. But aside from Fan (who as I said, I am not familiar with) the rest are a really epic cast.

      If we want to see inclusion…we need to get behind movies that are casting with diversity.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I think you could only say that this is patronizing if you think casting came before the script. However, if the script is written with a number of female characters and these actresses suit the roles, then this is simply casting.

      I think diversity is a wonderful thing, and I’d love to see all of these talents in one film. This is a very gifted cast.

  3. ab says:

    I’m not mad at this. it’s an original script, five female leads, a diverse cast. inclusion has to start somewhere. I don’t know what it would take to make this more “authentic”?

    • Pandy says:

      I feel the same way. If she cast all white women, we’d hear about it. If she uses an international cast, we hear about. Is there a magic formula we can all work with? lol.

      • vesper says:

        Exactly! You can’t please anyone these days. All these women are international actresses asked to play in an international spy film. I love Jessica and I do think she is very calculated in her business dealings, but that is her being thoughtful and strategic, which is necessary in business. I hope this film happens because I will go see it.

      • Mariposa says:

        Yes, also, it makes good business sense to be able to appeal to different demographic markets (e.g. the huge Asian market).

  4. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    Does Wahlberg really have that kind of clout? I’ve never been interested in anything he’s done, and after seeing The Happening on a long boring flight, I can’t imagine anyone being motivated to hire him.

    • Gutterflower says:

      Oh my god that was the one with the grass killing people right? Nature or whatever. So bad. I haven’t liked his movies in a long time now, though I did like The Other Guys and Shooter.

      • Betsy says:

        Wait – the people kill the grass or the grass kills people? Either way it’s Mark Wahlberg and I’m uninterested.

    • jetlagged says:

      Honestly? Yeah, he does have that kind of clout. I wish he didn’t, but that’s the reality. There might be limits – he may actually need to attend a pitch meeting if his idea is a little out there, or the budget is over $100 mil, but chances are any studio exec or distributor will be salivating over anything he wants to do.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Wahlberg does have that clout because, apart from his own projects, he has been producing movies and television shows for years that either get good box office or attract respected actors and get good critical reviews like In Treatment or Boardwalk Empire. Wahlberg’s really not the best comparator here for that reason. The better question would be whether an Oscar Isaac or Michael Shannon could.

  5. Jenn says:

    For me it’s simple -I see an Asian and a Black lady cast in this ensemble , and it’s not common to see either race cast elsewhere.
    So hell yes.

    Bottom line is I’d pay to watch it whereas I wouldn’t make an effort if they weren’t.

  6. ValiantlyVarnished says:

    Well it may seem performative but it’s better than seeing yet another all white cast. There is nothing wrong with being specific about choosing qualified talented women of color. All of these women have proven what they can do. There are three Oscar winners in that photo. Jessica Chastian has had her moments of being if not problematic than a bit naive and obtuse in matters of diversity so I applaud her for actually putting into action the things she says she stands for. White women have to actually LIVE their allyship. Otherwise is IS only performative.

  7. Mee says:

    ‘Performative wokeness’ Sheesh damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s an international spy movie, hence the international women. If I cast my friends in a movie it would be pretty close to this.

    • Anners says:

      This! ^^ it’s amazing to have women of colour and women who speak other languages cast as members of an international spy ring. It also makes sense (finally!). I’m excited for this. Actually, I’m pretty stoked for the movies that have come out (Hidden Figures, Wonder Woman, Black Panther) and the movies that are yet to be created where women are fully developed and essential to the plot, rather than just eye candy or wish fulfillment for men. This is an exciting time to be living in!

    • Tiffany :) says:

      ” Sheesh damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

      I agree. We shouldn’t discourage efforts to be inclusive by being overly critical.

  8. CK3 says:

    I’ve been dredging up “Smash” so the “script by Theresa Rebeck” turns me off. However, I’d throw any money at a movie w/ 4 of those women in it so I guess I’ll see it if it’s made.

  9. Honey Bear says:

    Oh now we want to recognize the “casting my demographic qx

  10. Catherine says:

    They are all top tier actresses, with proven talent. It’s hard not to be suspicious of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING these days. But, how is this different from female Oceans 11? They are talented and proven. I say we just go with it.

    I know hope and positive things make us nervous. But I see no evil here

  11. Isabel says:

    How is it performative? Why are you gatekeeping so hard on inclusion? If Chastain said one thing and did another then maybe that would be performative, but she’s been pretty consistent here, like with Octavia Spencer. Or if she hired one brown girl and gave herself a pat on the back for diversity I could see the shade. I would say she did her best.

    Side casting note: would LOVE to see Amber Rose Revah (Punisher) and Elodie Yung (Daredevil) get their shot at big screen hot operative/agent roles. Yung has a black belt and a law degree from Univ of Sorbonne!

  12. Carey says:

    I hear you on performative wokeness, which is definitely a thing, but I give Jessica a pass because she stood with Octavia Spencer for pay equality and also this is a helluva cast. Bingbing, Marion and Penelope are megastars both in their home countries and overseas and Lupita has an Oscar and is coming off a big role in a record breaking franchise. This is casting for diversity but also casting for excellence at the same time.

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I like ‘performative wokeness.’ Reminds me of that HBO series, ‘Here and Now’ I think it’s called. I don’t mind it all. It’s all part of a process.

  14. Slowsnow says:

    Well, considering that I keep counting the artists I put in my shows regarding gender and ethnicity to make sure I am not going along my white, ingrained sexism culture, I don’t see the harm in performative wokrness. It takes a lot of work to improvise well. Can we please stop splitting hairs? Moreover, these are top tier actresses and not just a side-kick wise black woman or Native American in the background (ahem Wonder Woman).

  15. Patty says:

    They all look good here for the most part but Penelope Cruz looks amazing! But I don’t know how I feel about this 355 idea. Hmm.

  16. KatieBo says:

    “We want more female driven projects and more diversity! No. Not like that…”

    This is great. Performative diversity is part of the process to full inclusion.

  17. Marianne says:

    Actually, I dont think the cast feels random or trying to hard to be PC or whatver. Maybe its supposed to be about these badass spies from around the world banding together or whatever. It would make sense that they’re not all white american ladies, or all white british ladies or whatever. These are ladies who were born/grew up in different countries across the globe.

  18. Taxi says:

    So racist Wahlberg can get big money? There are powerful & wealthy women who could disburse money too. Oprah, Julia Roberts, Kidman, Aniston, DeGeneres, Britney, Bullock, Madonna, Celine Dion, Judge Judy, etc., have huge assets. Witherspoon, Jodie Foster, Amy Powell, Shonda, Sherry Lansing & others have power. It’s up to the women to merge the money & power. There are business women with plenty of dough too – Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Martha Stuart, etc. Jane Fonda could throw in too.

    Presumably the women wouldn’t get it all from a single investor but Wahlberg doesn’t either. He also aims at the testerone-overloaded audiences who want lots of physicality & explosives. He didn’t get $100M the first time he asked, either. Start with less than an expensive action blockbuster & work up. Lots of female-funded production company possibilities exist.

  19. Margo S. says:

    Honestly, I can’t hate on this. I’m all for this type of thing. I want inclusion any way I can get it.

  20. Heidi says:

    I love the idea and will definitely see it, it’s just my cup of tea.

    However, I think this has nothing to do with inclusion, Jessica just has to make sure that the final product will sell in major movie markets like China, France and Spain.

  21. anon says:

    I’m not mad at this idea but I see Jessica Chastain everywhere and I’m bored of her. She’s extremely overrated and she looks the same in all her movies. Also, I don’t get why they have to sell a film they still haven’t even made but oh well

  22. Abbess Tansy says:

    It does have a feel of performative wokeness to me. I think that Jessica has realized some things about diversity and inclusion. But I get the impression that she’s going through the motions of appearing to be inclusive and woke but still a little asleep at the wheel.

  23. dirk says:

    “There’s authentic inclusion and then there’s just casting people by demographic.”
    Jeez. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t

  24. ChaiPumPum says:

    I love me some Fan Bingbing and want to see her kicking butt in a movie. However, I resent the idea that a group of incredibly talented actors are going to endow all the women of the world with magic powers because they went to drama school. It is a creative journey, fantasy and fiction, but they take it so seriously, I feel embarrassed for them. Having said this, it’s unfair, seriously stupid and totally backward that men get to do silly things like “acting” in fictional worlds with big budgets and not have to go crawling on all fours, as a matter of course. If these women can’t get funding for a kickass movie in 2018, when they have the fan base, experience and talent to make a good go of it, then 2017 was a PR stunt – total BS – and meant nothing.

  25. Betsy says:

    What’s performative wokeness? She’s walking the walk.

    Although I don’t like Marion Cotillard. At all. Conspiracy theories like mad.

  26. sally says:

    I do wish there were a Latina woman in it 🙁

  27. Susie says:

    What I took from the pitch is that the women are all from different countries. They’re International spies. So wouldn’t that mean, of different nationalities?

  28. Pandakeeper says:

    A beautiful, diverse cast with talent. I hope she can get it done. If it turns into a GoFundMe or a Kickstarter- I would gladly help them out a bit.