Thursday, April 18, 2024

With Jonathan Majors Convicted, Almost No One Will Ever See “Magazine Dreams” — And it’s Just as Well


Last January I was able to screen Elijah Bynum’s “Magazine Dreams” thanks to the Sundance Film Festival website.

“Magazine Dreams” was up for distribution and starred Jonathan Majors, so everyone clamored to see it.

The movie– about a body builder who’s quite violent and finally snaps — was so grim I didn’t want to review it. It was too depressing.

Imagine my surprise when Disney’s Searchlight picked it up for the fall, and an Oscars push. I couldn’t imagine Academy voters warming to this story.

A few weeks later, I actually met and shook hands with Majors at the Oscars. He was actually very engaging. I mentioned I’d seen the movie, I didn’t tell him what I thought. A week later, Majors was arrested for domestic abuse. His career, at least for now, is over after being found guilty today of assault and harassment.

“Magazine Dreams” has a robust 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. All the critics who liked it cited Majors’ impressive performance even if the movie itself was lacking in many ways. Searchlight probably thought they could get Best Actor nominations and wins regardless of the film’s downbeat arc.

Now, apart from the critics, it’s hard to imagine who will see “Magazine Dreams.” Searchlight can just bank it in the vault or sell it back to its producers. If the producers get it back they could put it on VOD. But Majors would be wise not to encourage that. Killian Maddox, his character, is disturbed and disturbing. He’s no Willy Wonka. Frankly, he’s lucky the jury never saw it.

For writer-director Bynum, this has to be a massive disappointment. Regardless of the cons, the pro’s outweighed them. Bynum’s career would have taken a big jump forward. Whatever happens, we can only hope he’ll get another shot and make a movie even better.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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