After an 18 year absence from the director’s chair, Warren Beatty is back behind the camera for “Rules Don’t Apply”, his 1950s-set Hollywood romance.
Not only does Beatty, 79, direct the film, he also stars as eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes in the film which follows a blossoming relationship between an aspiring actress, Lily Collins, and her driver, Alden Ehrenreich, both of whom are employed by Hughes.
For Beatty, there’s more to his new movie than just a forbidden romance.
“It’s about the hypocrisy of the commercialization of sex,” he tells Variety, “at the same time we have a country that has never completely shaken the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Jamestown, and the consequences of American sexual Puritan guilt. A lot of the rest of the world — like the French — are laughing at us.”
And that idea, of course has Beatty – the one-time notorious ladies man – reflecting on the counter-culture he was a part of in the 1960s and 1970s.
“At its root, what it did was liberate the female,” Beatty says of the time. “Which, interestingly enough, also really liberates the male.”
One thing Beatty would like to see liberated is the current theatrical model of film distribution.
“We have to face the fact that our kids are looking at things on their iPhones to see, with a greater sense of urgency, just what’s happening in the world,” he explains. “People don’t always want to get a babysitter, get in their cars, find parking and go out for a night at the movies. And we have to respond to that.”
For Beatty, the response is giving viewers day-and-date release of films in theatres and at-home video-on-demand. But in order for that to work, Hollywood needs to move past a 70-year-old prohibition against co-ownership of movie theatres by studios and allow exhibitors to share in at-home viewing profits.
“We are living under the 1948 Consent Decree of the Supreme Court. So we are living in the past,” he says. “I think that will be — has to be — remedied by the reinvention of exhibition. I think that the commercial possibilities of those films that are less predictable — not sequels and not tentpoles — will become commercially more viable, once again, once we can charge what a picture is really worth.”
“Films will be allowed to come in more shapes and sizes, like books, that can stimulate the development of the art form,” he adds.
“Rules Don’t Apply” will open in theatres on November 23.