Luke Wilson stars in "Middle Men," the story of the birth of the internet porn industry, directed by George Gallo. The film is being released by Paramount on August 6.
Based on a true story
The story of Middle Men is inspired by producer Christopher Mallick's own experiences from the late 1990s through the early 2000s when he found himself part of the burgeoning Internet.
Mallick admits, "Though this story is highly fictionalized, it reveals a section of how my life was shaped when the Internet began as a new means of commerce. This movie touches upon an industry that grew faster than anyone would've ever imagined. It was literally the 'Wild West' electronically – there were no rules; we were making up the rules as we went. There was more money than anyone ever imagined."
As for the term 'Middle Men,' he offers, "These are the guys that you don't see in the Internet business. There is a similar corollary within other industries – like the phone company – where you don't think of all those people it takes to connect your phone to my phone. It's those people that are hidden behind-the-scenes that we refer to as the 'middle men'."
As for its characters, Mallick clarifies, "This is about real people, but they are not based on anyone specifically; they're composites of various people I've encountered throughout my life as well as some wholly created characters George Gallo (Director/Co-Writer) and Andy Weiss (Co-Executive Producer/Co-Writer) conceived."
Originally a TV series
The original plan was to take the concept of 'Middle Men' and create a television series with HBO as the first contender. Mallick hired writer Andy Weiss of Punk'd, to write the pilot.
Weiss remembers, "Three years ago, Chris Mallick approached me to write about his time at the start of Internet billing. It was about uncovering a big business that everyone knows, but no one talks about – all the craziness and how it unraveled."
He continues, "At that same time, I was working with Writer George Gallo on another project and that's when it dawned on me that maybe we could collaborate together on Middle Men."
Collaborating with George Gallo
Director/Co-Writer George Gallo, who is revered for penning Midnight Run and Bad Boys, as well as directing 29th Street, among others, says, "When Andy first told me about Middle Men, I immediately felt an electrifying story, an amazing tale. Then he told me how he thought it could be told in a 'Rashomon-way' – using other people's viewpoints to tell one person's story – that's when I knew I wanted to direct it. It's a 'tour-de-force' for a director. I've been waiting to do this for 20 years!"
Producer Christopher Mallick worked closely with Weiss and Gallo as they rewrote the television series idea into a feature film.
Mallick remembers, "The direction I gave to Andy and George is that this story is about adult entertainment the same way Wall Street is about buying and selling stocks. Just as that movie is about the personalities of the stockbrokers, this movie is not 'about' porn; it is about people, redemption, greed – many things!"