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Where to go from here: The race for decarbonization...
Arthur D Little
2 days ago
Language EnglishExecutive summary: Unlike Mark Twain, who once famously quipped, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” the same cannot be said of the oil and gas (O&G) sector. Look no further than the supermajors – ExxonMobil, Chevron BP, and Shell recorded over US $50 billion of losses between them in 2020. Already under extreme pressure due to today’s energy transition, stranded carbon assets, and demand destruction playing out, market capitalizations of the supermajors almost halved in 2020. When Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $8.7 trillion of assets under management, or around 9% of global stocks, makes climate change and sustainability central to his letter to CEOs for two years running, then you know we have reached a carbon tipping point. Certainly, decarbonization has never been higher on the corporate agenda than today. Strong decarbonization trends at the corporate level are being driven by power stock market value creation and value-destruction stories. Carbon-heavy assets are underperforming in stock markets, while green and clean energy companies and their supply chains are broadly outperforming markets. When we add to this a significant wall of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investment capital trying to find a home in the clean energy world, we find valuations being stretched for clean energy assets, even at the preoperational development phase for both listed and unlisted assets. Moreover, governments, particularly in the offshore wind market, have realized that significant development premia can be charged for access to development sites, increasing the cost of development. In this report, we examine where infra investors and energy companies should turn when the world looks to decarbonize – and all are running in the same direction – and when demand for clean assets hikes the price of those assets. We examine key pain points and strategic considerations that investors and energy companies should consider in order to construct meaningful, value-accretive business models to enter the market and to accelerate growth in the sector. File: arthur_d_little_race_for_decarbonization.pdfContent report: Title: 1. The world is looking to decarbonize – what should infra investors and energy companies do? Full size: Description: The trends have been clear for some time. Many European independent power producers (IPPs), utilities, and developers began their energy transitions back in the mid-2000s – and even former O&G companies such as DONG Energy (now Ørsted) and ERG started their moves in 2006-2008. Given this timeline, we can reasonably call today’s supermajors the laggards, especially given the relative weakness in the price of oil since 2014. And then, of course, we have the dramatic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the stock market value creation/destruction process, resulting from a lockdown-induced V-shaped electricity consumption drop and recovery in both the EU and North America in 2020. Figure 1 highlights this trend in the UK and Germany, specifically. The latest trends have also powerfully illustrated the benefits of green business models. Over the course of 2020, green utilities, developers, IPPs, and wind/solar original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have significantly outperformed in the EU stock markets. Key trends include: Principally, better pricing and priority dispatch have emphasized resilience and growth for green utility models. Installations of new renewable capacity have been relatively unimpacted and continue to grow, driving the share performance of OEMs and developers. Development and operating assets remain in high demand. Renewable auctions have continued with minimal interruptions. Add to all these points is the estimated $350 billion of fund inflows into ESG funds and the chasing of green stocks (doubling over the last two years), as reported by Bloomberg Green. Thus, it makes sense that renewable valuations have continued to rise. This is true of listed and unlisted assets. In addition, given that government pandemic recovery packages have contained a green element – even if limited in the case of a few countries (e.g., UK, Germany, France, and South Korea), the net zero carbon rhetoric and ambitions in key markets such as the EU and the US have been vocal. That said, it appears that the green recovery agenda is being driven more strongly at the corporate level and by markets than at the government level as pure value creation and destruction plays out (see Figure 2). This, of course, sits behind several strategic trends – from decarbonization of the O&G sector and its push into areas such as offshore wind to the continued growth of low-cost capital funding structures in the financial services sector linked to decarbonization and sustainability. But the key question for many management teams is how, what, and where you can effect strategic change toward economically profitable repositioning and growth. This question is vital not only for utilities and developers but also for CEOs of the O&G sector. In this report, we focus, in particular, on the need to acquire in-demand assets while avoiding the destruction of value in the process. Importantly, many listed stock market valuations, recent transactions, capital raises, and auctions costs have led to myriad illustrations of overheating valuations, especially for development assets, as well as high costs of development as governments cash in (e.g., the UK offshore market). This leads to questions of where companies should focus in terms of jurisdictions, technologies, and position in the value chain, along with how companies should enter new markets and what they should be paying to do so. Selling undesirable carbon-intensive assets at low valuations and buying expensive clean assets is a tough strategy. Title: 2. Transactions under the microscopeFull size: Description: Access to a renewable project pipeline, technology, and operating assets has rarely been more desirable. We are witnessing clean energy incumbents, investors, and those on the journey to net carbon zero adopt several techniques and strategies to achieve scale and access to future project pipeline and operating assets. Regulatory changes with more merchant exposure and competition for such assets have also distorted valuations and returns across the value chain, meaning business models must evolve for new entrants and incumbents alike. As an example, Figure 3 illustrates some strategic considerations for the onshore wind asset development lifecycle. Key questions include: How do we gain a meaningful position in renewables to decarbonize our portfolio without overpaying? What technology options should we pursue, where, and with whom? What role does floating wind, and even floating solar, play? How do we access project pipeline and operating assets and what do the returns look like? Are these investable? How does regulation and increasing amounts of merchant risk affect development and operating business models and finance? How will auctions evolve - will they become technologyagnostic with just firm baseload power at a price, which has profound ramifications for renewables? At what point do we sell development assets, or should we hold them beyond the commercial operation date (COD); if so, for how long? What downstream asset management, trading, and offtake risk management capabilities do we need to get our development assets to market? Must we hybridize assets (i.e., add storage and/or multiple technologies to eliminate variability in production) at the portfolio or project level to achieve a quasi-baseload profile? How can dispatchable renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) be achieved? Do we need to partner with a balance sheet? For those looking to acquire assets and project pipeline: What constitutes good value for development assets? What stage must we enter development? In which markets, with what technologies, and with whom? Title: 3. Initiating development creates significant valueFull size: Description: The most obvious point to start when building a renewable project pipeline is at the beginning – and, in our opinion, that means becoming a greenfield developer. Greenfield development creates maximum value across the asset lifetime. We believe that the highest investment returns across the value chain from development through construction and subsequent operation come from greenfield development, as opposed to acquiring late-stage, ready-to-build, or even operating assets. Competition at these later stages is fierce and the returns available today for fully de-risked assets are similar to regulated assets at an internal rate of return of 5%-7% we estimate. Double-digit returns for greenfield development admittedly come with a higher degree of risk, but also balance sheet is required to bring assets through construction. Consequently, many players are moving into development to capture this value, including companies where development is outside their core skill set, such as manufacturers (e.g., Vestas) and financial investors (e.g., Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners [CIP] and Macquarie). Such moves only come with the acquisition of people or companies. The difficulty of entering development is that development takes time to deliver – up to 10 years for offshore, at least five for onshore wind, and three for solar PV. For those seeking to decarbonize and move their portfolios, investing in development assets is a mid- to long-term option and requires the addition of specialist skills and competences often outside preexisting skill sets or the rapid acquisition of such skills through M&As or partnerships. Development has historically been considered a relatively low capital-intensity business, certainly when compared to the full cost per MW of installing a wind turbine or PV panel. Typically, you would expect 5%-10% of sunk cost to install related to the all-important development piece. Of course, not every dollar spent will deliver as development comes with some natural attrition (see Figures 4 and 5). However, partnerships and acquisitions are becoming highly competitive with a lot of investors (both infra/private equity) as well as O&G chasing origination/development platforms. Some recent deals in acquisition of developers and project pipeline include Mainstream Renewable Power (MRP) by Aker Horizons, Solarcentury by Statkraft, and the acquisition of a stake in CIP by leading wind OEM Vestas. To glean some key understandings in renewable strategies, let’s take a closer look at some of these recent developments The acquisition of MRP by Aker in January 2021 has demonstrated the value in pure development Norwegian investment company Aker Horizons has bought a 75% stake in MRP at roughly the cost of $818 million. Through this deal, Aker Horizons, an investment subsidiary of the Aker Group, will gain 1.4 GW of projects either under construction or in operation, a 10 GW project development project pipeline, and 10 GW of “identified project opportunities.” According to MRP chairman and founder Eddie O’Connor: This partnership is the crucial next step in the vision set out for MRP in 2008. [It will] widen our scope for entry into new markets and further deepen and expand our leadership position in existing ones. MRP accelerated its growth trajectory and Aker gets access to future renewable-generating assets This deal enables MRP to materially accelerate its growth plans to deliver a global portfolio of wind and solar assets. [MRP] plans to bring 5.5 GW of renewable assets to financial close by 2023, [setting the company] firmly on track to becoming one of the world’s first pure play renewable energy majors. (Source: PowerTechnology) According to the Financial Times, Aker’s parent company saw its market capitalization increase by 25% after the deal, with the value uplift more than offsetting the cost of the acquisition. BayWa manages to raise nearly $642 million in new equity and evolves the development business model Several funds led by Energy Infrastructure Partners (EIP) have committed to investing $641.7 million in a capital increase of BayWa renewable energy GmbH in order to get a 49% stake in the renewables business. (Source: Reuters) BayWa can exploit new value-creation opportunities in merchant assets, corporate PPAs, and limited asset ownership Institutional investors have a clear appetite for such a renewable development platform. Moreover, through this transaction, BayWa has essentially evolved its business model from a pure play developer to a partial IPP. BayWa AG (BayWa r.e.’s parent company) and EIP have agreed to strengthen BayWa’s project, service, and solution business and develop the company into an IPP. According to BayWa, the company will operate selected solar and wind power plants itself, with a total volume of up to 3 GW in the medium term. Arthur D. Little believes that adopting a progressive developer business model that allows limited ownership in certain jurisdictions in specific situations is critical for developers in the future. We believe that long-term value creation results from “cradle to grave” – that is, greenfield to full ownership, as long as balance sheet and funding constraints allow. However, in a world where regulation has shifted from feed-in-tariffs (FITs) to merchant exposure or corporate offtakers, it will be critical for developers to prove merchant concept and revenue streams to maximize development asset value through limited ownership. Thus, successful developers of the future will need to have some access to balance sheet to do this. Even pure development requires greater capital now, especially in the offshore wind market Equally, consider how the cost of development has changed dramatically in certain markets (e.g., offshore wind, where access to seabed real estate has become extremely expensive). In 2018, eyes were raised when US auctions in New York and New Jersey produced prices of around $54-$98 million/GW for development rights (see Figure 6). These rights do not confer access to a guaranteed development or grid connection; they merely confer the right to develop with no guaranteed outcome. The recent UK R4 seabed lease auctions (see Figure 7) took the industry into yet another stratosphere with prices equivalent achieved for development rights rising to around 8x-16x higher than the US auctions, with developers potentially being asked to pay up to £0.5 billion-1.0 billion/GW over 10 years before eventual CAPEX of £2 billion-4 billion/GW. This represents a significant amount of capital at risk with no guaranteed outcome or future revenue streams. It was highly instructive that the big winners in the UK R4 were those previously not present in the UK offshore market (e.g., BP/ Total/RWE), but at what price for a seat at the UK offshore table? Notably, current active incumbents including major players Ørsted, Iberdrola/Scottish Power, Equinor, SSE, Vattenfall, Ocean Winds (EDPR/ENGIE), EDF, and others – all currently present lost out. At this point, it is difficult to say whether the winners will have overpaid, based on assessment of an asset that may run for 50 years with a view required on energy prices over that period. Certainly, however, there has been massive inflation, and up-front unguaranteed development costs will be well over £1 billion/GW. All offshore developers and other governments will be looking very carefully at the UK offshore auction model as well as the rush to acquire development assets and a development capability In a world where balance sheets have become important, this has become a key question for offshore developers. Plus, there remain creative ways to finance growth with the establishment of novel development engines funded by higher risk capital (e.g., private equity) allied to assetco/yieldco-type structures funded by institutional capital (e.g., pension funds). Demand for development platforms remains high as evidenced by the deals discussed above as a route-to-market to generation assets. Equally, even within the OEM space, business models remain fluid and are evolving; for example, Vestas is looking firstly to enter development but also in partnership with an infrastructure platform. Typically, OEMs have not been developers, but the need to find a route-to-market for equipment and high-margin services, along with the desire to capture some development value, has driven Vestas back into development and also toward an innovative deal with CIP. Title: 4. Focus on Vestas – move into development and infra fundingFull size: Description: Vestas has taken a 25% stake in renewable asset manager CIP. CIP runs seven funds (a total of $16.6 billion); its portfolio represents 20 large-scale projects with 8 GWs of capacity. According to Vestas, the deal would “further expand its presence in renewable project development” and allow the company to invest within areas of the renewables value chain that lie beyond its existing activities. Pressure on the profitability of turbine sales has seen major manufacturers build up service contracts to find additional revenue. Thus, development and co-development offer another profit route, one that is insulated from any undulations in turbine orders, including development in technologies beyond wind. On the flipside, this transaction has strengthened CIP’s position as a market pioneer and global leader within renewable energy investments and complements its industrial know-how with an even stronger capacity to innovate, lead, and enhance the deployment of institutional capital into investments in the global energy transition toward a net zero carbon economy. CIP will use part of the transaction proceeds to create and co-invest into a new Energy Transition Fund, which will launch in the first half of 2021. The fund will invest in technologies such as power-to-X, which will be instrumental for the decarbonization of large-scale markets in fuel and feedstock. (Source: Energy Global) Title: 5. So what will be your company’s answer to this strategic challenge?Full size: Description: We are witnessing seismic shifts in terms of market positioning from all O&G companies to traditional IPPs and utilities to even OEMs looking to gain a foothold in renewable project pipelines as a portal to owning assets. There are more buyers than sellers, and development platforms of all shapes and sizes are required. But at what cost? Just saying “caveat emptor” is not that helpful for the buyers. There are ways to successfully enter the renewables business while creating significant value (see Figure 8). Arthur D. Little can help companies understand which markets, which technologies/ combinations of technologies, and at what point in the value chain and with which partners to enter renewables markets. Arthur D. Little can also navigate innovative financing constructs and complex risk management tools that allow investors to get the very best out of their development, generation, transmission, or smart assets. Subtitle: Strategic choices for infra investors and the energy sectorAuthor (team): Nick WhiteYvonne FullerIndustries: Utilities & alternative energyDate Publication: Friday, April 9, 2021Image: Autre auteur: 0Report with background: Report without grey background......
Someone please put these classic science fiction novel stamps on my wall...
2 days ago
I'm no expert on stamps. In fact, I can't remember the last time I used one (sorry, Mum). But the latest batch from the Royal Mail has me wanting to send letters to every corner of the universe. The British postal service has released a wondrous new collection of artworks that will be featured on its tiny postage stamps, celebrating six classic science fiction novels by British writers. Set to mark the 75th anniversary of HG Wells' death and the 70th anniversary of John Wyndham's classic novel The Day of the Triffids being published, the collection features illustrations for Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Time Machine by HG Wells, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke, Shikasta by Doris Lessing, and of course, The Day of the Triffids. Read more...More about Science Fiction, Culture, and Books......
The Beauty and Violence of Ernst Haeckel’s Illustrations...
Eye on Design
3 days ago
If you’re a designer and a lover of nature, then you might have on your shelf one of the many…......
Apple Researching Mac Pro's 'Cheese Grater' Design for Other Devices Like iPhone...
1 week ago
Apple is researching expanding the 2019 Mac Pro's distinctive "cheese grater" lattice design to other devices, including the iPhone and a "trashcan"-style Mac Pro, according to a newly granted patent filing. Apple introduced an innovative milled lattice pattern on the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR in 2019, which is created by machining a spherical array into the internal and external surfaces of the aluminum. The result is a lightweight lattice pattern that maximizes airflow while creating an extremely rigid structure. The new patent, first spotted by Patently Apple and granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is titled "Housing construction" and covers expanding the lattice pattern to other devices, such as the iPhone. The patent explains that "recent advances in electronic devices have enabled high levels of performance," but many existing housing solutions are unable to "effectively distribute or reject heat generated by the electronic device to the surrounding environment," thereby curtailing "the levels of performance of such devices." Apple believes that its lattice pattern presents a solution to this problem, since it increases a device's surface area for better cooling and can more effectively "conduct heat away from a component of the electronic device positioned substantially adjacent to the first surface of the body." These enhanced levels of heat removal, as described above, can result in significant performance gains for the electronic device and can allow for the use of components or operating levels that heretofore may not have been achievable with existing three-dimensional structures. In improving cooling, devices with the lattice pattern could push their processors to higher temperatures for better performance. Illustrations included in the filing demonstrate how a miniaturized version of the lattice pattern could be milled directly into the iPhone's outer frame and rear. As well as significantly improving thermals, this could also improve grip, "provide a unique and pleasing look and feel," and give "a pleasing experience when handling the device." In some cases, a three-dimensional structure can include a relatively intricate repeating pattern that, in addition to enhancing heat removal capabilities and providing stiffness, provides a visually interesting or aesthetically pleasing effect to the user. Such a three-dimensional structure, for example when used as a housing, can also include a variety of colors on one or more regions of the housing to enhance the visual appearance and provide a pleasing aesthetic experience to the user. Another advantage of the lattice pattern is improved structural strength without increasing the thickness or weight of components. When used as a housing or other structural component of an electronic device, a three-dimensional structure as described herein can provide a high level of strength and stiffness to weight ratio to the device. Traditional structures often achieve enhanced stiffness or strength by thickening or enlarging certain portions of the structure, often resulting in an increase in the weight and size of the electronic device, which may not be desirable to a user. The three-dimensional structures described herein can include, for example, a matrix of passageways that serves to greatly enhance the stiffness of the three-dimensional structure, without significantly increasing the size or weight of the structure. Thus, a relatively lightweight, yet extremely strong and stiff electronic device can be produced. Another embodiment covers embedding the lattice internally inside the iPhone to improve rigidity and strength, allowing "the electronic device to be used over a long period of time while maintaining dimensional stability." The patent also mentions how the lattice structure "can act as shielding for the electronic device, while still allowing for air flow there through," particularly as a shield against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and/or electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) noise. In addition to the iPhone, Apple appears to have resurrected the divisive design of the 2013 Mac Pro, informally dubbed the "trashcan" Mac Pro, to demonstrate alternate embodiments for the lattice pattern. Given that the lattice pattern debuted on the 2019 tower Mac Pro, it is interesting to see some of the latest Mac Pro's design aspects implemented on an older model. Although reversion to the trashcan-style design may seem more likely amid the transition to Apple silicon for a next-generation Mac Pro, the machine is in fact expected to look more like the Mac mini. While patent filings cannot be taken as solid evidence of the Apple's plans for actual consumer hardware, they can provide an interesting insight into the company's areas of research. At a minimum, this patent indicates that Apple may be planning to bring its unique lattice pattern to more devices in the future, but only time will tell.Tag: patentThis article, "Apple Researching Mac Pro's 'Cheese Grater' Design for Other Devices Like iPhone" first appeared on MacRumors.comDiscuss this article in our forums......
The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien Illustrated Edition Pre-Orders Are 40% Off...
1 week ago
For the first time since the original publication in 1954, a new edition of The Lord of the Rings will include illustrations, sketches, and maps from author J.R.R Tolkien. This follows popular exhibitions of his LOTR artwork that took place in New York, Paris, and Oxford, England in 2018. The book went up for pre-order .........
Apple Researching Totally Redesigned Apple Watch With Wrap-Around Display...
2 weeks ago
Apple is researching a potential radical redesign for the Apple Watch, including a rounded watch face, wrap-around flexible display, and digitally-customizable watch bands, according to a newly-granted patent filing. The patent, spotted by MacRumors earlier today, is titled "Display Module and System Applications" and was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The document outlines how a flexible display could span the entire watch face and the band of a smartwatch for a transformational new Apple Watch design. The elongated display itself is said to be flexible enough to contour to the shape of a user's arm to fit like a normal watch band. In one application, embodiments of the invention describe a wearable electronic device, such as a smartwatch, including a flexible display panel and flexible display module. In this manner, the display area of the smartwatch is not limited to a rigid watch face area. In an embodiment, a smartwatch includes a flexible display panel that is integrated into a flexible watch band. Accordingly, curvature of the flexible display panel in both the watch face area and band may be adjusted to conform to the wrist size of the user... the display area of the flexible display panel can cover more available space on the watch face area and band of the smartwatch. Apple explains that the design includes a display with a "plurality of interconnects" that extend "through the display substrate from the front surface to the back surface, and an array of LEDs are in the display area and electrically connected with the plurality of interconnects." A battery, processor, ambient light sensor, and other vital smartwatch components can be fixed within an enclosure to the rear of the large display unit. While the filing explains that an OLED display may be sensitive to air and moisture degradation without a protective rigid glass cover, as well be "problematic" with the use of "interconnects," some OLED display technologies may still be appropriate for the radical new design. Apple also notes that the design could facilitate a "minimized" bezel around the display for a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, and could even "eliminate" the bezel entirely: In accordance with embodiments of the invention, a bezel width surrounding the display panel can be minimized, for example below 4-5 mm or even less than 1 mm, less than 0.5 mm, or eliminated. Thus, the bezel design of the smartwatch can be designed for aesthetic concerns rather than as a requirement for allocating space for a contact ledge. As well as being able to select a watch face design, as on current Apple Watch models, the patent explains that users could similarly select a digital band design to be shown on the band segment of the wrap-around display using an "accessory manager" to create a unique look. The filing describes a very similar system for selecting band designs as is currently in place for selecting and customizing watch faces, with the option to do so both on the Apple Watch itself or on a connected iPhone. The input is parsed to derive the data for display, and the derived data is displayed on the display area, where the display area is on a flexible display substrate spanning a face and band of the wearable electronic device. For example, the wearable electronic device may be a smartwatch. In an embodiment, the non-transitory computer-readable medium stores additional instructions to perform additional operations including receiving a configuration of the display area of the watch face and band, receiving a design from the derived data, the design including a watch face and watch band, and updating the display area with the received design. Although the Apple Watch's Digital Crown does not appear to be depicted in the design, a separate patent has today been published with the title "Capacitive gap sensor ring for an input device," explaining how the Digital Crown could use two "nested" capacitive rings that move against each other to gain a wider range of input information. While Apple has yet to release a device with a flexible display, the company is believed to be working on an iPhone with a foldable display. Patents cannot be taken as evidence of Apple's specific intentions, but they do provide valuable insight into what the company is researching and developing behind the scenes. Moreover, the depiction of an alternative Apple Watch design in a patent is very unusual since Apple is usually conscientious to mirror the current design of the Apple Watch in patent illustrations. Patents focusing on the Apple Watch's physical design itself are even rarer, and may well hint at the future of the device. The Apple Watch has effectively had the same design since its launch in 2016, other than a minor refresh with the Apple Watch Series 4, and we are yet to see a substantial re-imagining of the wearable's form factor. Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously hinted that the Apple Watch Series 7 may feature "improved form factor design," but there is as yet no indication of what the final device may look like. The Apple Watch Series 7 is expected to launch later this year, but there have been few rumors so far about what the new model may feature other than blood glucose monitoring.Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 6Tag: patentBuyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)This article, "Apple Researching Totally Redesigned Apple Watch With Wrap-Around Display" first appeared on MacRumors.comDiscuss this article in our forums......
Keanu Reeves to Star in and Produce Adaptation of His Comic ‘BRZRKR’ at Netflix...
2 weeks ago
Keanu Reeves will play his own comic book character in the Netflix adaptation of the graphic novel he created, “BRZRKR.” Reeves is set to star in and produce the live-action film based on “BRZRKR,” a BOOM! Studios comic book series that launched just this month. Along with the feature film, Netflix will also adapt “BRZRKR” into a subsequent anime spinoff series. Reeves will lend his voice to the series, too, which will expand the universe and explore different elements of the story. “BRZRKR” was co-written by Reeves and Matt Kindt, with illustrations by Marvel artist Ron Garney and colors by Bill Crabtree, letters by Clem Robins and character designs and covers by Rafael Grampá. Also Read: 'The Matrix' Sequel Moves Up to Christmas 2021 in Warner Bros Date Reshuffle “BRZRKR” is a brutally epic saga about an immortal warrior’s 80,000-year fight through the ages. The man known only as “B” is half-mortal and half-god, cursed and compelled to violence, even at the sacrifice of his sanity. But after wandering the earth for centuries, B may have finally found a refuge — working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, B will be granted the one thing he desires — the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence, and how to end it. Reeves will produce the film alongside Ross Richie and Stephen Christy for BOOM! Studios and Stephen Hamel for Company Films. Adam Yoelin will executive produce for BOOM! Studios. The comic “BRZRKR” is a 12-issue limited series published by BOOM! that launched on March 3. The first issue has already sold over 615,000 copies, making it the highest-selling original comic book launch in almost 30 years. Reeves had been developing the original idea for the comic for a number of years, and he teased earlier this month that he dreamed of portraying his inked counterpart on screen. Also Read: Keanu Reeves Recalls 7-Hour 'Orgy' of Auditions for Original 'Bill & Ted' in Unpublished 1987 Interview (Exclusive) Reeves recently completed production on “Matrix 4,” which will be released later this year. He will begin production on “John Wick 4” this spring. BOOM! Studios has a first-look deal for live action and animated television series with Netflix Keanu Reeves is represented by WME, Sugar23 & Ziffren. BOOM! is represented by UTA & Matt Saver. Related stories from TheWrap:New Marie Kondo Series 'Sparking Joy' to Debut on Netflix This Summer'She's All That' Remake Lands at NetflixTiffany Haddish to Star in and Produce 'Mystery Girl' Comic Adaptation at Netflix......
‘Without Getting Killed or Caught’ Film Review: Lyrical Documentary Captures Songwriting Legend Guy Clark...
2 weeks ago
This year’s South by Southwest Film Festival has showcased several documentaries about successful musicians, including Tom Petty, Charli XCX and Sparks. But you could argue that they haven’t had one about a better songwriter than “Without Getting Killed or Caught,” Tamara Saviano and Paul Whitfield’s affectionate and lyrical film about Texas-born songwriter Guy Clark, which finally premiered at SXSW last week, a year after being booked for the canceled 2020 edition of the festival. A plainspoken poet whose first album, 1975’s “Old No. 1,” contained more classic songs than most people can muster in an entire career (“L.A. Freeway,” “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “Let Him Roll” …), Clark racked up hits for people like Jerry Jeff Walker, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and the Highwaymen, but rarely showed up on the charts himself until they started measuring the Americana genre, which he pretty much epitomized. He was a songwriters’ songwriter, the mentor to many and the focal point of a Nashville community of talented renegades that coalesced around himself and his wife, Susanna – and while he appeared in the 1981 documentary “Heartworn Highways,” it’s certainly appropriate to take a fuller look at the career of a man who died in 2016 at the age of 74. But is “Without Getting Killed or Caught” really a movie about Guy Clark? Or is it about him and Susanna, a compelling songwriter in her own right and a muse not only to Guy but to such seminal songwriters as Townes Van Zandt and Rodney Crowell? Or is it about Guy and Susanna and Townes, an inseparable trio with intricate ties that take most of the movie to untangle? Or it is about the entire creative community that coalesced around Guy and Susanna and Townes? The answer is yes, it is. It’s all of those things, bobbing and weaving and slipping from one to another, floating between people who don’t like to be pinned down or summed up. It explains and it teases, and it celebrates and mourns in a way that should enlighten those who aren’t fans and satisfy those who are. Also Read: 'Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free' Film Review: Ragged Documentary Fits the Man and the Music Whitfield and Saviano, who wrote a 2016 book about Clark with the same title, use an array of techniques in the film, some of which help tell the story and some of which keep us off balance. While Guy sat for both video and audio interviews, Susanna is heard largely through passages from her diaries, which are read by Sissy Spacek in voiceover and make some parts of the film play like the Susanna Clark story. The first-person segments are augmented with illustrations and paintings, including those by both Guy and Susanna, as well as old photos and videos, occasional animated sequences and memories from friends like Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill and Steve Earle. The film is deliberately elusive — it’ll stick with Guy for a while, then veer off to focus on Susanna and Townes. It’ll feel linear for a while, and then suddenly shift back to Clark’s childhood. It’ll explain some details and only hint at others. But that works with a story that felt mythic even as it was unfolding. Clark grew up in Texas, married early and had a child, but ended up in San Francisco trying to write songs, then back in Texas, then Los Angeles, then Nashville … He bonded with Susanna, who calls herself “an Okie debutante,” after the suicide of her sister, and became best friends with the self-destructive but ferociously gifted Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt, whose own truckload of classics includes “Pancho and Lefty” and “If I Needed You.” “Guy and I were married,” says Susanna (via Sissy Spacek) early in the film. “Guy and Townes were best friends. But Townes and I were soulmates.” The complex nature of that relationship was obvious to everybody around the trio, but so was the flowering of artistry that surrounded them. “Guy wasn’t in the business of harvesting stardom,” Crowell says. “He was in the business of harvesting art.” Also Read: 'Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free' Film Review: Ragged Documentary Fits the Man and the Music Stories abound, and if you’re familiar with the work you’ll hear the roots of Clark’s songs in those stories – and as the stories are being told, you’ll also hear hints of the music, with long stretches of the film scored to the guitar parts to songs like “L.A. Freeway,” “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” “Let Him Roll” or “The Randall Knife.” But the songs themselves are often withheld at first; the movie will tease us, then deliver a live version that’s necessarily truncated. In the early going, a lot of time is spent asking the question, “Why didn’t Guy become a bigger star?” But there was a reason why his songs were hits for other people: His own voice just wasn’t very strong on his early records and often wasn’t suited to the production. (If you want to hear Guy do justice to his songs, it’s best to go to later live versions.) His career picked up after he began making folkier, more independent records in the 1980s, and after the record industry became more accommodating for what would come to be known as Americana music – but that also coincided with Guy and Susanna splitting, and with Townes’ drinking and drugging making it increasingly difficult for him to perform. (It’s a shame that we see him on stage at his worst but seldom get to experience the brilliance he was capable of.) And then, as Clark was experiencing his greatest recognition as a truly great songwriter, tragedy consumed those around him. Clark gives up playing with Van Zandt because he becomes too unreliable and self-destructive; “Townes wants to die,” Susanna says in her diary. Van Zandt does die, in January 1997, of heart problems brought on by substance abuse. And then Susanna essentially gave up as well. “Susanna surrendered something that night,” Crowell says. “She wanted to die slowly, and she did. And Guy suffered horribly.” Susanna didn’t die until 2013 – but at that point, Crowell says, she’d essentially spent the last 15 years in her bed. Also Read: From Billie Eilish to the Bee Gees: Why Music Documentaries Are Booming The final stretches of “Without Getting Killed or Caught,” even as Clark finally receives his due as a great artist, are haunted by the personal wreckage around him. In some days, the film becomes a lament for Susanna and for Townes, and in doing so it finds a sad kind of poetry. It also circles back to Guy, who soldiered on, continued to record even after his own cancer diagnosis, and even won his first Grammy in 2014, for his final album. It was called “My Favorite Picture of You,” and on the cover was a photo of Guy, out of focus, holding out an old photo of Susanna. “It’s true it was a mythical love story,” Clark says late in the film. “I wouldn’t disabuse anyone of that. It’s just, you have to be there to get it.” “Without Getting Killed or Caught” can’t completely put you there, but it comes close and does justice to a complex and compelling group of people. It takes that mythical story and gives it a human touch. “Without Getting Killed or Caught” premiered at South by Southwest. It is holding virtual screenings throughout April, with ticket information available here. 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