Exclusive: Producer Mike De Luca on PRIEST and the Remake of FRIGHT NIGHT

     April 1, 2015

Fright Night Priest slice.jpg

If you’ve been reading Collider the past few days, you’ve seen what I’m calling “7 Days with Producer Mike De Luca”.  The reason for the name is, I was able to speak with De Luca for an extended amount of time and rather than post everything at once, I’ve broken our conversation up into smaller parts.  I’ve already posted what he said about the Metal Gear Solid movie, Ghost Rider 2, Drive Angry and Dracula Year Zero. Today it’s all about Priest and what’s up with the remake of Fright Night.

On Priest, De Luca says Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper flipped over the concept and thinks the movie could be the start of a franchise.  Of course it’s all about box office numbers, so if the film does well, expect a sequel for sure.  De Luca also confirms Priest will have a presence at this year’s Comic-Con.

And for fans of the original Fright Night, you’ll be relieved that De Luca says:

“I get it that remakes are a drag to hear about. I’m on the Internet all the time. I know what they say. Like there’s no original ideas in Hollywood. I understand the responsibility on the remake front of things because there are fans…you have responsibility I think to the fans of the original and you also have the responsibility to not suck even more than something original because you have so many people expecting you to suck because of the predisposed bias against remakes and stuff.”

He goes on to explain the idea of the remake, that Fright Night could be filming this year at DreamWorks, they’re expecting the first draft of the script in a few weeks, and compares the scope and size of the film to Disturbia.  Much more after the jump:

While you can read my entire conversation with De Luca below on Priest and Fright Night, here’s a choice passage on what he said regarding Fright Night and the idea behind the remake:

Mike De Luca image.jpegAnd with Fright Night, with all the romantic vampire stuff going on with The Vampire Diaries and True Blood and Twilight, the most obvious. We thought it would be interesting if, in this atmosphere of the way the vampire is being portrayed right now as a romantic object, under the wire of all that in the culture the real thing moves in next door. And the real thing is a killer. Just a predator. It’s the shark from Jaws. On the outside it’s a seductive package and it looks like a human being, but it’s just about ripping your throat out and drinking your blood. And introducing that kind of vampire into the current environment.

If you’ve been worried about the remake, the way De Luca spoke about the project, I’m extremely confident he wants to make a really cool film.  Of course it all comes down to the director and who is in it…but I think it’s in safe hands.  Here’s our conversation:

PRIEST

priest_movie_poster_01.jpgCollider: How did Priest turn out? I know you guys obviously wrapped recently.

Mike De Luca: Right. It really was a blast. It was really fun. Again, it was kind of this great genre blend of a vampire movie but also Road Warrior and also The Searchers and it was kind of like a pseudo-western in a good sense of the word. So we had…it was a good genre blend. We had fun with that one. Paul Bettany is a wonderful, wonderful actor and brought real credibility to the role in what I hope is the first of many, but I’m very impressed with Scott Stewart as a director and also the partnership with Screen Gems and with Josh Donen, who also works with Sam Raimi and David Fincher here at Columbia, it was just a good gang all the way around. Everyone got the movie. Everybody was excited about making the same kind of movie and I think it brings yet another variation of the vampire mythology to the screen in an original way. These vampires are not brooding or romantic. They’re another species. They’re feral. They’re much more predatory and they’re more a return to like a monster movie as opposed to anything gothic or romantic.

Obviously you wrapped about a month or two ago I guess, when do you think the first trailer might be out for people to see?

De Luca: I guess working backwards from an August release which is what they’re targeting, you’d probably see materials at the end of the first quarter. You know, there may be stuff…ideally you’d want the trailer up in February, March, April like with those movies. You usually start 3 months behind the release-maybe 4 months behind release.

They’re released a poster which looks pretty cool.

De Luca: There’ll be a Comic-Con presentation.

I would expect nothing less. But with Priest did you get into this in talking to Screen Gems that this could definitely be a franchise.

De Luca: Yeah, but we submitted the spec script to Screen Gems. Clint Culpepper flipped over it and said to us, this is a franchise. He loved the image of the guy with the cross tattooed on his face. Like it really just sold him on how he could sell the movie. And he’s been its biggest champion and was excited about it from the beginning.

FRIGHT NIGHT

Fright Night movie 1985 (1).jpgCollider: You guys are working on a new Fright Night.  What can you tell people about it.

De Luca: I would tell people that I get it; that remakes are a drag to hear about. I’m on the Internet all the time. I know what they say. Like God there’s no original ideas in Hollywood. God this is going to suck. This is stupid. I can’t stand it. Why do they keep doing this? Like all the chat that happens, I get it. I understand the responsibility on the remake front of things because there are fans…you have responsibility I think to the fans of the original and you also have the responsibility to not suck even more than something original because you have so many people expecting you to suck because of the predisposed bias against remakes and stuff.

When we look at remakes, I try to limit it to in terms of criteria. You know, what about this idea is relevant to today and what could be done better than it was…maybe not better but different and different in a way that makes it exciting. And with Fright Night, again, going back to the vampire thing, with all the romantic vampire stuff going on with The Vampire Diaries and True Blood and Twilight, the most obvious. We thought it would be interesting if, in this atmosphere of the way the vampire is being portrayed right now as a romantic object, under the wire of all that in the culture the real thing moves in next door. And the real thing is a killer. Just a predator. It’s the shark from Jaws. On the outside it’s a seductive package and it looks like a human being, but it’s just about ripping your throat out and drinking your blood. And introducing that kind of vampire into the current environment and also taking advantage of the original’s brilliant structure of the boy who cried wolf. This kid, you know, this adolescent boy you’re trying to figure out what kind of man he wants to be. Product of a single-parent household-single mom. Being the man of that relationship. Being the man in his new relationship with his current girlfriend. Having an older male vampire move in next door and kind of put the moves on both the mom and girlfriend and what it does to this young man’s rite of passage from boyhood into manhood. That all felt like elements from the original that you could treat with depth almost the way Ron Moore took Battlestar Gallactica from the 70’s and gave it current gravitas.

Fright Night movie 1985 (3).jpgBut there are elements of Fright Night, the original, involving the transition from boyhood to manhood and the acts of a predatory older man on younger female and male characters that there’s almost like a dark, dark fairy tale quality that you could really amp up and bring to it a maturity that they couldn’t do in the 80’s. But also keeping the original film’s unique blend of like appropriate humor and scares but we wanted to have more scares than laughs. I think the original is almost 50/50 or even more laughs than scares. And I think we’re going to have appropriate dark humor and sardonic humor and sarcastic humor and erotic humor, but not tongue-in-cheek or cheesy humor but really go for some scares and some depths of character in terms of what these teenagers are going through in their lives before the vampire kind of comes in and starts taking pieces out of everybody’s lives.

What is the status of that project?

De Luca:  Waiting for a first draft from this writer Marti Noxon, who is a Buffy veteran and is currently, I think, a consulting producer on Mad Men.

That’s a good resume.

De Luca: I thought so. Yeah, she’s wonderful.

What studio can I ask is doing it?

De Luca: DreamWorks.

And is this one of these where…is it going to be…I’m just curious like how big they were thinking about this as a project?

De Luca: You know on a scale, I think just in terms of production scope and scale of movie, I would think of it a little bit like Nightmare on Elm Street or a little bit the original Fright Night or more recently Disturbia just in terms of the scale of movie. But we’ll see. We’ll see what the script’s like and what it calls for, but I don’t think it’s a movie with big stars. I think it’s a movie with the appropriate cast and the star of this movie is really the concept and the director I think ultimately.

Fright Night movie 1985 (2).jpgWell the two last questions on that is have you already started thinking about a director for it?

De Luca: No, actually. I guess we’ll get into that after we get the first draft.

When are you expecting to get the first draft?

De Luca: I think imminently. I think within the next couple weeks.

So this could be a project that moves forward, if everyone’s happy, this could be in front of the cameras in 2010?

De Luca: Yes. I think so. I think because it’s not particularly star dependant, it gives you freedom to kind of start when you want to because you’re not waiting on peoples schedules the way you are sometimes when you’re chasing movie stars.

But can it also happen that after you get the draft some agent gets it and thinks it’s perfect for such-and-such and all of a sudden it becomes sort of a different movie?

De Luca: Sure. That could happen. I think with genre films especially that rarely happens but it could happen, you know?

Well, vampires are the thing right now. You never know.

De Luca: You never know, it’s true. You never know.

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