Brett Ratner has established himself as one of Hollywood’s most successful directors with eight features films grossing over $1.5 billion worldwide. Best known for the Rush Hour films, X-Men: The Last Stand and Red Dragon, the filmmaker is releasing his 90-minute, re-edited and remixed version of the Bollywood film Kites, starring Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori.
Kites: The Remix follows J (Roshan), a mortally wounded man left for dead in the harsh terrain of the Mexican desert, who is on a quest to find the love of his life, Natasha (Mori). It is a story of passion that goes beyond boundaries and cultures, and defies every rule, and it was that relationship that caught the attention of Ratner, when he initially saw the film.
While at the film’s press day, Brett Ratner talked exclusively to Collider about how this unusual project came about, why he decided to re-edit a Bollywood film and what he thinks it will take for a Bollywood movie to make it big in America. He also talked about his next projects, the chances of Beverly Hills Cop IV and Playboy coming to fruition, and the TV pilot for Chaos that he recently directed, and says his next directing gig will be Tower Heist which he wants Ben Stiller to star in. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Brett: It definitely came out of the blue. It was kind of an accident. I figured out how I came up with the idea for it, after it happened. Reliance owns half of Dreamworks and they did eight deals with some people in Hollywood. I’ve been acquiring IP’s and buying a lot of stuff, with them as my partners. They’ve been great because they’ve allowed me to just be a buyer and buy comic books that I want to buy the rights to, and buy other stuff.
I’m friends with the chairman and he said, “Can I bring an Indian producer to your house for dinner?” I said, “Of course!,” so he brought Rakesh Roshan, who was telling me about the movies he’s done and his career and how he has a son who’s an actor, but he was very humble and really cool. I said, “Well, what are you doing, here in L.A.?” And he said, “We’re screening this movie that we made, Kites. It’s the biggest-budget Indian movie ever.” I said, “Oh, wow! Can I see it?” They told me Barbara Mori was in it and I was like, “Oh, my god, I’m in love with her! I want to see the movie. You’ve got a Mexican actress in an Indian movie?”
I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it was going to be singing and dancing, and I was completely blown away ‘cause it was so western in the way they did it. So, Rakesh Roshan came to me afterwards and said, “What did you think?” I said, “Oh, it was really cool! I didn’t expect to see that.” He said, “Well, what would you do, if you put it out in the United States?” I said, “Well, that’s a different story. I would shorten it, I would change the music, I would do a real mix, so the sound is really big, and I would change all the actors’ voices, except for Barbara and Hrithik’s voices.” And he said, “Oh, can you do that for us?” And I was like, “What do you mean?” He said, “Can you do what you just said?” And I was like, “Really? Oh, god. What did I get myself into? I can’t say no to them because they’re Indian and they’re so nice.”
That’s how I got involved, but then, I realized how I came up with all these ideas. Before I did Rush Hour, I was a big fan of Jackie Chan movies and I had seen all of them. For a certain period of time, Miramax and New Line were alternatively releasing all of his Chinese movies, and they were doing what I did, which was putting American voices in it. For the smaller roles, like a cop in Nevada, a Bollywood actor was doing an American accent. In Jackie Chan movies, they would change the Chinese music, change the dialogue into American looping, and mix it with a fuller mix, so that it didn’t sound like all the dialogue was looped. So, I was like, “I can do this. I know how to do it.” I wasn’t Brett Ratner the director. I was Brett Ratner the producer.
You edited an over two-hour movie to 90 minutes. Was it an easy edit?
Brett: I wouldn’t say it was easy. There were parameters because I didn’t want to change the story. I just wanted to simplify it. I said, “What can I pull out of it that can simplify it and tell the story in the quickest way possible that doesn’t drag it out, just so that you can enjoy the story?” Once it breaks into dance, it isn’t a typical movie. It’s out of left field. You’re in a dramatic scene and, all of a sudden, they start dancing and it’s like, “What the hell is that?” The difficulty was walking that balance and staying true to the core Indian audience while making a movie that was accessible to people like you and me, who are used to watching movies that are a normal narrative structure.
Were you worried that re-editing the film might change the emotional connection of the characters?
Brett: No ‘cause that’s what worked. That’s why I liked it. The emotional connection of the characters was there. There was just a lot of extra stuff in it. So, I sucked out all the extra stuff and now you just have that. You have tight action sequences, a great love story, some humor, some fun and some fish-out-of-water comedy, and it works.
What will it take for a Bollywood movie to make it big in America?
Brett: I think taking the biggest star in India and the biggest star in America, and putting them together in a movie that starts in America and ends up in India, or starts in India and goes to America. I think it would be a buddy cop formula. It’s interesting. It’s not easy.
You’ve been quiet, as of late, in the director’s chair, outside of a short in New York, I Love You and directing for TV. Why is that?
Brett: I’m trying to be a little bit more mature about my choices and think about what I want to direct next, instead of just jumping into a movie ‘cause I want to do it. I’m trying to be thoughtful about it and create my own franchise, which is not as easy as just jumping into a franchise that’s already moving.
You have a number of projects on IMDB that you’re attached to, like Harbinger, Playboy and Beverly Hills Cop IV.
Brett: Don’t believe that.
What’s the status of Beverly Hills Cop IV? Is that going to happen?
Brett: Who knows? I never would do a movie like Rush Hour, except Beverly Hills Cop, which is the next level, with Eddie Murphy, who influenced me to do Rush Hour.
What do you think your very next project will be?
Brett: I’m producing movies that are going now. I’m producing Horrible Bosses. I have a documentary coming out on John Cazale, called I Knew It Was You. I’ve got Catfish coming out.
What is the next film you’ll be directing?
Brett: The next movie I’m going to direct is Tower Heist, which is a heist movie that I’m talking to Ben Stiller about doing.
Where do you think the Hugh Hefner film, Playboy, will fall into your film schedule?
Brett: Not first, that’s for sure. Who knows where? I’ve been developing this movie, Horrible Bosses, for over two years and it just now is getting greenlit. It’s just timing. It’s not easy. That’s the normal process for a movie.
What do you look for, when deciding on which projects you’ll take on? What makes you decide to produce one project, but direct another?
Brett: John Cazale is my favorite actor, but I didn’t want to direct the documentary ‘cause that’s really a whole other process, so I produced it. Catfish is a movie that I saw and I loved, so I got it sold. It depends. I look for stuff that I’m passionate about.
How have the economic changes hitting Hollywood affected you, as a director and producer, and the stuff you have in development?
Brett: You’ve got to think about how to do things for the right price. You have to shoot in different places to be creative and get tax rebates. But, less money sometimes allows you to be more creative. I’m not tied to budgets. I’m tied to the story that I want to tell, and how much it’s going to cost is up to whatever the economic situation of the studio is. There are a lot of factors.
What are your thoughts on 3-D? Do you see any of your stuff coming up filming in 3-D, or are you okay with post-converted 3-D?
Brett: I’m about to work on a movie – not in the way I did Kites – but that’s an experiment to help them transfer the film into 3-D. That experience is going to probably help me do my own 3-D movie, down the road. I’m just going to learn. It’s another way of going to school. I’m getting paid to learn. It’s great.
You have a special relationship with Chris Tucker. Do you see yourself working with him again?
Brett: Yeah, I would love to. I screwed up because I should have come up with an idea for Chris and Jackie that was another franchise, like a new franchise. I’m going to think about it and see if I can come up with another idea for him. That would be great.
What is it about the two of you that allows you to work so well together?
Brett: It’s like DeNiro and Scorsese. They have a history. I put him in one of my first music videos. I knew him when he was a kid. I saw him doing stand-up. I was a kid, just coming up, and we came up together. It’s trust. I get where he’s from, who he is, what makes him funny. He’s a country boy. I get him. I just do. John Landis got Eddie Murphy, until he did Beverly Hills Cop 3.
Is the Rush Hour franchise done, or do you see a 4th film, down the road?
Brett: It costs so much money to launch one of those movies. Who knows? I’m not thinking about it right now.
Can you talk about the pilot you just shot?
Brett: The pilot is great. It’s called “Chaos.” Freddy Rodriguez stars in it, and a bunch of other actors, including Stephen Rea. It’s really, really fun.
What made you want to get involved with that project? What interests you in directing television?
Brett: I love it. It’s great. It’s just a way to hone my skills. I haven’t made a movie in a long time. I’ve got to keep sharpening the tool. I love it.
What are the biggest differences for you, between directing film and directing TV? What are the most noticeable limitations?
Brett: It’s the same thing with a lower budget. It’s telling stories. They get big filmmakers to direct television now.