Mike De Luca Exclusive Interview
Posted by Frosty
Collider: Well, I would like to think that Sony being…this is such an iconic character for the Playstation and Sony’s making it, that they really want this movie to work.
Mike De Luca: They do.
Collider: This could sell Playstations.
Mike De Luca: Right.
Collider: I mean it’s like one of the synergy kind of properties.
Mike De Luca: Yeah.
Collider: So that being said, are they very…is this one of these projects that they’re “we really want this to be right”?
Mike De Luca: Yeah, we all want it to be right because there’s a lot at stake.
Collider: I guess that being said, have you thought about…have you guys internally thought well this is a $100 million movie—this is a summer blockbuster or this is going to be one of these mid-range kind of things?
Mike De Luca: No, they know it’s big. I mean, we don’t want it to be crazy big but they know it’s big on the bigger side of things.
This is the end of the interview that was done in Las Vegas. About a week later we talked on the phone and here’s part 2.
Collider: So when we left off we were talking about Metal Gear. When you were at ShoWest, you mentioned to Coming Soon I believe Kurt Wimmer?
Mike De Luca: This writer Kurt Wimmer is one of the people we’re looking at to talk to about pitching on it.
Collider: Yeah, because a lot of people online—you know the way the Internet community gets. They hear one name and they immediately assume that’s the guy.
Mike De Luca: Not only do they do that but they assumed he was directing, too and it’s actually—Kurt is like one of many people we’re talking to about pitching us back a take on adapting the franchise. He hasn’t been hired or anything.
Collider: So it’s sort of like the way what happened with Universal with the “Wolfman” where they had a lot of people come in after…I forget the guy’s name…who dropped out. Where they had like 8 different filmmakers come in, pitch their ideas and they went to Joe Johnson.
Mike De Luca: Yeah. Well this is more…I mean there was a script already and they were looking for a director. This is more normal course of doing business like you have something that needs adaptation whether it’s a book or a play or a video game, and you take the initial property and you go out to a bunch of writers that you like and you see who comes back with a take on adapting the thing that turns you on.
Collider: So how does that work? That’s actually something that I think a lot of us who are are on the outside…what is it…do you know when you’re talking to a filmmaker you’re like, “wow, that’s the guy.” Is it almost like a casting session? Or do you guys…you know you have a few different filmmakers who all pitch you great ideas and then how exactly does that work?
Mike De Luca: It’s well put. It is like a casting session only you’re casting the writer instead of the actors, but you just…in this case Kojima and Sony and ourselves will hear how ever many takes from writers that we all think could do well with this property and we get to a point where we agree that there’s this one take that’s just the best out of the bunch and we’ll go with that writer.
Collider: Have you ever had when… I’m sure this has happened…you’ve worked with this kind of a situation in the past…have you ever 2 filmmakers come in and they both have such great takes that you almost try to combine their 2 ideas into 1?
Mike De Luca: No, I’m sure it’s happened but that never happened to me.
Collider: Well, moving off Metal Gear Solid because I’m very…well, when do you think…let me do my last question, when do you think that this project is going to be getting announced like more concrete stuff?
Mike De Luca: Probably…hopefully…well, let’s see, the writer’s strike just ended so we just started this interview…you know this process of hearing takes from writers. Best case I’m hoping 6 weeks from now.
Collider: Okay, cool. I’m now going to ask you about…you have a few other projects according to the always accurate IMDB. As you know that is really on the money. So, I figure what the hell let’s just put it out there. So you are attached to something called “The Hands of Shang-Chi”.
Mike De Luca: That’s old information and no longer accurate.
Mike De Luca: It was a project that I tried to acquire for development from Marvel while I was at DreamWorks as an executive and the deal never happened so it actually never even went into development at DreamWorks.
Collider: See, proving that IMDB has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Mike De Luca: Right.
Collider: Okay, let’s go to the next one. “Hammer Down”.
Mike De Luca: “Hammer Down” is another old and I believe inactive Dream Works development project.
Collider: Okay, let’s go to the next one. “Priest”
Mike De Luca: “Priest” is an active project of mine as a producer over at Screen Gems and my producing partner on that is Josh Donen who works with Sam Rami on those I think those “Ghost House” movies.
Collider: So can you tell us what the film is going to be about?
Mike De Luca: “Priest” is a genre-blending movie. It’s kind of like a sci-fi horror film about a group of specially trained priests that hunt down vampires in kind of a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Collider: Is that like something that you’re…is that in a real fast-track kind of thing or that’s just one of the many project that you’re developing?
Mike De Luca: No, Screen Gems hopes it can be a franchise for them so it is fast-track to the extent that we’d like to get a director on it sooner than later but it’s currently not out to anyone and we don’t have anybody on it.
Collider: The last question about future projects. Do you have anything else that you are…and I’m about to talk to you about “Love Guru” but is there anything else that you are working on that is not listed? Stuff that you are, you know, passionate about that is going on in the background.
Mike De Luca: Nothing is about to get “green lit”. Everything’s development projects but I think the ones…some of the ones we’re excited about in terms of getting to that next stage include “Dracula Year Zero” at Universal. “Money Ball” at Sony. “Metal Gear Solid” at Sony and we’re trying to get a writer on that.
Collider: So those are the 3?
Mike De Luca: “This Present Darkness” at Fox waiting for a new draft on that. It’s just one of my faves so I’m trying to get going.
Collider: Before we go any further, let me ask you about “Money Ball”. That’s based on the book.
Mike De Luca: Correct.
Collider: So what is going to be the take on the movie?
Mike De Luca: The take is basically a kind of dramatic depiction of that 2002 season. Just kind of you know its still going to be kind of a journalistic endeavor, the movie, but it’s condensed to really the beginning and end of that season that contained the 22 game winning streak.
Collider: I would imagine…you know it’s interesting they’ve done a lot a lot of sports movies, but they haven’t done a lot of really modern sports movies.
Mike De Luca: Yeah, I think there should be a mix of like a sports movie but also an anti-establishment triumph of the individual movie in terms of the way Billy Bean went up against conventional wisdom and the bureaucracy.
Collider: Yeah, a lot of people who don’t follow sports don’t know about Billy and his mentality for doing things.
Mike De Luca: Yeah but the good news is the theme in that book of individuality over the establishment and thinking outside the box, you know, I think one of the reasons…I think its universal and the book is handed out at all these corporate retreats for any business because what it has in its DNA is this strong advocating of not sticking to conventional wisdom.
Collider: Do you guys have an idea of like…have you asked Billy who’s going to be…you know how is that going to work?
Mike De Luca: No, we haven’t even gotten the casting yet. We’re still trying to see if we can find a time to make with a director we like.
Collider: Okay, let’s move on to if you don’t mind “Dracula Year Zero”. So what’s that about?
Mike De Luca: “Dracula Year Zero” is a origin story for kind of an origin story for Prince Vlad of Transylvania and how he came to be a vampire and what were the circumstances surrounding his transition from you know ruler of this modest country to King of the Undead.
Collider: Is Alex Proyas still doing it?
Mike De Luca: Yeah, we’re supposed to pick him up after his finishes the Nick Cage movie, “Knowing”.
Collider: I’m a big fan of Alex, was this one of those things where he came in a pitched you the way we just talked about, you know his take on the material or is this one of these things where you went after him?
Mike De Luca: No, I went after him and he did come back and pitch a take on the material that was great.
Collider: And is this one of these…and pardon me because I don’t really know much about the story…but does this take place in modern times?
Mike De Luca: No, it’s almost a mix of historical fact and supernatural fiction. It takes place during the time of the original Price Vlad.
Collider: Okay, again it’s…there’s going to be a Dracula fan who reads this who’s just going to be angry with me for not knowing enough about the history.
Mike De Luca: I’m just blanking on what century it was. I want to say the 12th century, I could be wrong, but it’s in there. It’s in that zone. Hold on one second.
Mike De Luca: It’s 13th century, I just looked it up. Vlad was born in 1390, so it’s the 14th century.
Collider: So what was it about the script that pulled you into this….to wanting to make this movie?
Mike De Luca: The script was an ingenious blend of “Braveheart” and a horror film. Prince Vlad is positioned as a young ruler who to protect his kingdom from the tyranny of the invading Turk army allows himself to become a vampire and in doing so ends up defeating the invading Turks but is now stuck being Dracula for the rest of his undead life.
Collider: So I’m very curious how Alex is going to approach this material. Like what kind of style because Dracula has been done many times.
Mike De Luca: It’s Dracula as a warrior prince so it’s Dracula as Gladiator or Dracula as Braveheart.
Collider: That actually sounds very interesting. I’m curious if he’s going to go very dark, if it’s going to be you know a bright kind of thing, but I mean these are questions for once he actually gets on the project.
Mike De Luca: Yeah, I can’t imagine it being bright.
Collider: Neither can I. I can’t imagine a “Braveheart” look, you know with the bright sun.
Mike De Luca: No, it’s just about…it’s about what kind of devil’s bargain would you agree to to protect your people.
Collider: So will the film go and follow him like through for hundreds of years?
Mike De Luca: If we’re lucky. If people enjoy the first film you could take the story all the way up to the time period of Bram Stroker’s Dracula.
Collider: What was the 3rd thing you said?
Mike De Luca: Oh, that adaptation of Frank Peretti’s novel, “This Present Darkness” at Fox. We’re waiting for a draft on that.
Collider: And how is it as a producer to be balancing this many projects or does it end up working out that while you have all these projects in development it’s never 3 at the same time?
Mike De Luca: I guess ‘cos so few films get made out of the films that are in development you try to develop enough where you have a good shot at some of them kind of popping, but I don’t overdo it, like I don’t load us up with 20 or 30 projects. We try to keep it small and really try to work on things we think have a chance of getting made.
Collider: How has it been through…because you have a very long career and you’ve been at many different companies, is it pretty much the same at all the different companies with the way things actually get made that you know how things get green lit?
Mike De Luca: Well, it’s different because the personalities at each studio are different but the machine in place and the principles are the same, you know, in terms of balancing your creative passion for something with what you think will be a financial return on investment.
Collider: So, we talked earlier and I don’t remember the exact conversation during our part one of the interview about you being a big comic book guy.
Mike De Luca: Yes.
Collider: So is there anything out there right now that you’re reading and saying, “wow this could make a really great movie”?
Mike De Luca: No, you know, most of the stuff I read now is graphic novels or limited series in any of the Marvel or DC Cannon. I really enjoyed the Civil War mini-series at Marvel. I really enjoyed “Last Frontier” at DC, you know this kind of take on the “Justice League”. I read them just for fun obviously. Not only are they owned by other people, but they’re not necessarily good movies so almost all of my comic book reading in the last 5 years has been for fun.
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