Mr. Mudd is a film production company founded in 1998 by Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, and Russell Smith. The company is known for producing the films Ghost World (2001), Juno (2007) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), all three of which received critical acclaim.
Formation of the company
Malkovich met Russell Smith in high school, where Smith was a star basketball player for the Lanphier High School Lions in Springfield, Illinois. The two later became freshman roommates at Eastern Illinois University. Malkovich later co-founded the Steppenwolf Theater Company, and invited Smith to become a writer for the troupe. Smith later produced a number of Steppenwolf plays, then moved into film production. Malkovich and Smith formed the Smith-Malkovich film production company in 1994.
Malkovich met Lianne Halfon in the late 1980s while she was an executive at A&M Films. Malkovich and Halfon were both bidding for the film rights to author Don DeLillo's 1988 novel about Lee Harvey Oswald, Libra. A&M films won the auction, and Halfon asked Malkovich to help develop the property. Although the film never coalesced, Malkovich asked Halfon to help produce a version of the novel as a play for the Steppenwolf Theater. The three first met while developing Libra for Steppenwolf.
Having Malkovich's name attached to the company did not initially prove valuable. According to Smith, writers and financers kept turning down Mr. Mudd because they assumed Malkovich would want to star in the film. The company was forced to stop mentioning Malkovich's involvement, and did not look for a property for Malkovich to act in for three years.
Malkovich describes his involvement in the company as minimal, limited to finding novels and plays which might be worth producing. Russell Smith, however, says that Malkovich also is good at developing a property, provides excellent script notes, and has a strong sense of good editing. According to Halfon, the three principals are attracted to properties for very different reasons, but each has the "same sensibility": "Each of us might pick up a different book, but what that person finds interesting in that book will be something the other two will see as something that can make a movie."
Halfon has described the three principals as very hands-on during production. "We are there every day on the set, we're there at the answer print, we're there at the mix, we're there at the delivery. We supervise the transfer to DVD," she told Filmmaker magazine in 2003. Helping writers and directors protect their vision of what the film should be, she says, is what draws filmmakers to Mr. Mudd.
The company had a financing and development deal with United Artists which ended in 2004. The deal funded production costs, but not Mr. Mudd's overhead. When the UA deal ended, Mr. Mudd began raising money for its projects through private equity financing. Mr. Mudd signed a first look deal with Mandate Pictures in July 2008.
Notable films produced by Mr. Mudd
- "Inside Outsiders." Filmmaker. Spring 2003. Accessed 2015-04-07.
- Gross, Michael Joseph. "Mr. Mudd's Wild Ride (in Indie Land)." New York Times. March 5, 2006.
- Siegel, Tatiana. "Mandate, Mr. Mudd team for 'Towns'." Variety. October 23, 2008.
- McClintock, Pamela. "Participant Media Picks Up Diego Luna's Historical Drama 'Chavez' for North America." The Hollywood Reporter. June 5, 2012. Accessed 2012-10-14.
- "Jean-Marc Vallee Set To Helm 'Demolition' For Mr. Mudd". deadline.com. Retrieved June 15, 2013.