While the box office at movie theaters has been up and down all year, one of the biggest surprises of 2017 happened this past weekend: Lionsgate’s fantastic film Wonder made over $27 million dollars even though it was up against Warner Bros.’ mega-budget superhero team-up Justice League. While I figured the popularity of R.J. Palacio’s novel would get families into movie theaters opening weekend, everyone involved in the making of the film deserves credit for crafting something special.
Last week, at the London press junket for Wonder, I sat down with producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman to talk about the making of the movie. They revealed how they first acquired the material, the long road to movie screens (they first spoke to R.J. Palacio in March of 2012!), how they got Stephen Chbosky to direct the project, what they learned from test screenings, the casting process, and so much more. If you enjoyed Wonder and are curious how the project was made, you’ll learn a lot watching what they had to say. In addition, they talked about the worldwide success of Beauty and the Beast (they also produced that film), why well-done films like Stronger didn’t perform at the box office, upcoming projects like Extinction, Swan Lake and The Aeronauts, and a lot more.
If you’re not familiar with Wonder, the film is based on the novel of the same name by R.J. Palacio and stars Jacob Tremblay as Auggie, a young boy born with facial differences that, until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school. As he enters the fifth grade, his parents, played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, decide he should go to a public elementary school. As we follow Auggie adapting to his new situation, the film switches perspectives to include his sister, her boyfriend, Auggie’s fellow classmates and more. It’s an interesting way to tell the story and it absolutely works. I thought Chbosky did a great job helming this movie and loved the message of the film. Strongly recommended. Wonder also stars Izabela Vidovic and Mandy Patinkin.
Check out what David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman had to say in the video above; below is exactly what we talked about, followed by the official synopsis.
David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman:
- How did they get involved in the project?
- How they first talked to R.J. in March of 2012.
- How long did it take for them to acquire the film rights?
- How tough was it to get Stephen Chbosky to helm the feature?
- How the film and book focuses on different character perspectives. Did they ever talk about not doing it that way in the film?
- Was it tough to get Star Wars in the film?
- They talk about casting Jacob Tremblay.
- Getting Julia Roberts in the film. They reveal she was involved for 5 years.
- The great message of the film.
- What did they learn from early screenings that impacted the finished film? They reveal they scored 100% in test screenings.
- Do they have any deleted scenes?
- Even though Stronger was an extremely well done film, it didn’t hit at the box office. Do they think real life stories can still make it at the multiplex?
- What do they think about tiered pricing at movie theaters for better seats and larger budgeted movies?
- What do they think about the streaming services and are they talking to any of them?
- They’re talking to Disney about producing content for their upcoming streaming service.
Anything going on with Muppets?
- What did they hope to make at the box office (worldwide) on Beauty and the Beast?
- With the success of Beauty and the Beast have they entertained any thoughts about developing a sequel/prequel or anything like that?
- The cost of marketing a movie.
- What can they say about Extinction?
- What’s that status of Swan Lake?
- What’s coming up for them? They talk about the status of The Aeronauts.
Here’s the official synopsis for Wonder:
Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to find their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
Lionsgate presents, in association with Walden Media and Participant Media, a Mandeville Films / Lionsgate production.