After seeing just one still of the movie in a trade paper, and then being sent the finished film, producer Joel Silver thought it was so effective that he ended up acquiring the rights to the horror feature Splice. Although he was always open to the possibility, acquiring an already-finished product was something he had never done before, under his Dark Castle banner.
While at the press day for the disturbing thriller, which stars Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, the prolific producer also discussed a long list of other projects that he currently has in various stages, including Unknown White Male, The Apparition, The Factory and Project X. He also talked about the disappointing box office for The Losers, his hopes to get Logan’s Run and Forbidden Planet into production, what’s holding up Swamp Thing and his thoughts on 3-D, as well as confirming that he is no longer working with The Wachowskis. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Here’s some of the highlight’s of the interview in bullet points. Further down is the transcript of the entire interview:
- Says they start filming July 6
- Calls it a “wild action-comedy”
- For more on the Todd Phillips project, click here
- Says they’re working on the script now and the film was almost in production then Bryan Singer went to work on Superman
- Says “ten years ago, there weren’t that many young movie stars who could star in a movie like that. But now, there are a lot of young actors who could do that.”
- Confirms the new adaptation goes back to the book
- “There’s nothing right now. They’re off on their own path now. I’m not dealing with them now.”
- They were close to making it and then an issue with the rights came up. He says, “We actually developed a couple of drafts and were close, but then, all of a sudden, it became evident that the motion picture rights were not held by Warner Bros. Even though DC owned the underlying material, the movie that was made by Embassy with Adrienne Barbeau was owned by another company.”
- Says it’s “a really scary haunted house movie with Sebastian Stan and Ashley Greene. They also really are just totally in it with the story. It’s like Poltergeist and Paranormal Activity. It’s about a little house in a cul-de-sac in the Valley, where a lot of the houses didn’t get finished because of the financial crisis. It’s not built on a graveyard or anything. It’s this really modern world and, into this world, comes a really, really scary story, and they are terrific with it.”
And here’s the full interview. Again, Splice opens June 4. You can watch some clips from the movie here.
Question: How were you made aware of this film?
Joel Silver: I saw one of the stills of the movie in one of the trade papers and it intrigued me. I like the Frankenstein story and I’m a big fan of gothic horror, and I just thought it was an interesting idea and a new way to tell the story. I saw the log line, said that I would like to see the movie, they sent me the movie and I had no idea what I was going to see. I had not read the script. I just watched the movie. When that scene came along, I said, “They’re not going to show us that. They can’t possibly show that.” And then, I said, “I can’t deal with this.” I just felt it was so effective that people would want to see the movie. Warner Bros. doesn’t even have an acquisition department anymore. They don’t acquire anything. There are very few acquisition departments left in town. The smaller companies have them, but the bigger studios really don’t. And, Dark Castle had the ability to do that, so I showed it to the studio and they said, “Let’s go for it.”
Is that the first time you’ve ever done that?
Silver: Yeah. Dark Castle has released 11 films, up to this point. This will be our 12th movie, and I felt that it said my message, and it’s the audience that I wanted to go after. I think it will work. I hope it works.
Has this opened up the possibility of more acquisitions?
Silver: I always said, from the beginning of our model, that I would do this, if something came along. And, when this came along, it made sense. Sure. We’ll see what happens. If it works and people respond and it does good then, sure, I’ll do it. I’m open to it. But, the movie was so special. Vincenzo [Natali] had a hard time making it. He worked on it for eight years. Cube was eight years ago. He really tried to get this together, and the mainstream studios weren’t supportive of it, so he had to make it off the grid. When he made it and we saw it, we brought it back into the grid. So, it worked out just fine.
Silver: The idea is fresh, but it’s not like it’s never been done before. There’s The Island of Dr. Moreau and Species. There have been movies that have had this type of idea, but I just think maybe the concept was too out there. But, it wasn’t for me.
What changes did you make to the film?
Silver: Vincenzo had just rushed to get it done for the festival circuit and he had stuff that he wanted to do, that he had more time to do. There was not an immediate schedule. There was a schedule and we had a date, but he was able to go through it and tweak some things, fix some visual effects, do a new dub and really do what he wanted to do, like work on the main title, and I was supportive in helping him do that. Most people that see the movie, who saw it in Sundance, will probably note even be able to tell what was done. But, he feels better.
This film seems open to a sequel. Is that something you’ve thought about?
Silver: I always like to make sequels. It’s a nice business to be in. It would be nice if this movie can generate that much interest. I’d love to continue the story. It’s designed for that. But, the audience has to respond to it. If they do, then we’ll take about it, sure.
When you make films like this, do you consider how much to show the creature?
Silver: When I made Predator, I remember that I was so conscious about not showing the creature. I just didn’t want to show up because he looked so silly. I just cut off of him. I’d go to him for a minute, and then I’d cut away. I didn’t want to let people study what is a big rubber face. But, when Vincenzo made this movie, he hangs on Dren (Delphine Chaneac). You just can’t take your eyes off of her. You’re looking at her wondering, “What is different about her? What did they do?” You just can’t take your eyes off of her. It’s just incredible.
What other films do you have in the pipeline, under Dark Castle?
Silver: I just finished shooting a movie called Unknown White Male, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who did Orphan. In my mind, Orphan is a very similar idea to Splice, in that it has two great actors – Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard – who committed to this wacky story with this little girl, like Sarah [Polley] and Adrien [Brody] did. They really are in it and they really make you believe it. Unknown White Male is with Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones and Aidan Quinn. It’s a Hitchcockian thriller, but it’s really smart and really interesting, and I think it’s going to be a good movie. I haven’t seen it yet because we just finished shooting, but I think it’s going to be a very good movie. And, I did a picture called The Apparition, which is a really scary haunted house movie with Sebastian Stan and Ashley Greene. They also really are just totally in it with the story. It’s like Poltergeist and Paranormal Activity. It’s about a little house in a cul-de-sac in the Valley, where a lot of the houses didn’t get finished because of the financial crisis. It’s not built on a graveyard or anything. It’s this really modern world and, into this world, comes a really, really scary story, and they are terrific with it.
As Liam Neeson gets older, he seems to be getting more and more action roles. What is it about him?
Silver: It’s a really thrilling idea. It’s a thrilling story. He plays a scientist doctor, who’s on his way to a medical conference in Berlin. He arrives at the hotel and realizes that he left his briefcase at the airport. He goes back to the airport to get his briefcase, and there’s a horrible car accident on the way. He wakes up, after a few days in a coma, and he doesn’t have any ID and nobody knows where he’s been. He goes back to see his wife and she doesn’t know who he is and she’s married to somebody else. It’s a pretty strange story that goes in a really good direction. It’s pretty fantastic. It’s great. And, he plays that character so well. He’s this guy who has to figure out what’s happening and has to live on his wits. It’s good. It’s strong. January Jones plays the wife, and Diane Kruger plays this girl that helps him.
What’s going on with The Factory?
Silver: We’re still working on that now. It’s a pretty disturbing movie too. That’s down the line.
How do you do so much? Are you on every set?
Silver: Look, I have a good group. I have good people that work for me, and we just keep hoping that we can keep making movies. We start shooting a movie that’s not Dark Castle – it’s for Warner Bros. – on July 6th, called Project X, that I’m doing with Todd Phillips. That’s a wild action-comedy. We have a good team. We find good things and keep trying to make them.
How do you decide what to keep under Dark Castle and what to do with bigger studios?
Silver: It’s generally budget-based. Generally, pictures that we can make for a certain price go to Dark Castle, and the ones that cost more than that go somewhere else. We developed The Book of Eli in Dark Castle, but we couldn’t do it at Dark Castle because it became too expensive of a movie. And then, Warner Bros. didn’t really want to make it either because they thought it was a little weird, so it went on to Alcon Entertainment. You have more options now, today. But, it just depends on the budget. Project X is a very inexpensive movie, but it was done with Todd, which is a Warner Bros. deal. It’s all a serpentine situation. Both Unknown White Male and The Apparition are Warner Bros. pictures. The next Sherlock Holmes film is not a Dark Castle movie either. It just depends on the picture.
What’s Project X about?
Silver: That’s something I really can’t get into.
What do you think about Adrien Brody doing Predators?
Silver: I don’t really know that much about it, but I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting picture. I’ve been there and done that, though.
Is there a movie that you think should never be done again?
Silver: I’m told they’re going to make Commando again. That was one that I felt was not an effective picture. Maybe they can do a better job. I liked the movie, but it was very simplistic when we made it, and kind of silly. I’m always interested in seeing these pictures and seeing what they do with them. I hear they’re doing an Exorcist type movie being made again. They’ve always been remaking movies, since the beginning of time. They’ve always made sequels. Someone once said to me, “Didn’t you invent sequels?,” and I said, “No, Francis the talking mule invented sequels.” There’s always been things happening, and sometimes movies come out better than others. People want to see them, and they keep making them. We’ll see what happens. How many times have they made Sherlock Holmes? And, we did a good movie.
What do you think about 3-D? Do you think it’s just a gimmick, or do you think it will be around for awhile?
Silver: It’s real. Anytime you can sell a $20 ticket, it’s going to be real.
How far are you with Logan’s Run?
Silver: It’s going to happen. We’re working on it. I believe in that. We’re trying to get that made. I’ve always wanted to make that.
What is the most important element for you to get that going?
Silver: We’re writing a script now. What people don’t understand is that movies are sometimes like fruit. They’re perishable. They can go on the shelf and, if you don’t eat them by a certain time, they’re gone. But sometimes, they can come back. You can put them in a can and bring them out again. But, we got really close with that, a couple years ago. Bryan Singer wanted to make the movie and we got really close. We has a script that we were developing, and we were practically in production on the movie, and then he left to do Superman and it went down, and we couldn’t really get it up again. The thing about it now is that there are really a lot of young people. Ten years ago, there weren’t that many young movie stars who could star in a movie like that. But now, there are a lot of young actors who could do that. The idea of a youth-based society that you live in for a certain time and then you no longer live anymore is an interesting idea for a movie, but you need young people that people want to go see. And, there are people out there now that I think people would be intrigued with seeing, so it’s a realistic thing again. So, we’re trying to do it. I’d say to you that I think we’re going to get there this time, but who knows? But, I think we will.
Does your take on it go back to the book?
Silver: Yes, it goes back to the book. The book was a trilogy. There were three books about a society of 21-year-old people, who if they don’t accept it, get chased by a runner. All that stuff is there. It’s all in the story. It’s pretty cool. Michael York was probably in his 40′s when he was playing that part, but there are a lot of people that could do it now. It’s still that notion about sanctuary, and all the stuff that’s in that book is there. This was all pre-Matrix, about a computer type entity that controlled the society. A lot of movies were influenced by Logan’s Run, like Minority Report. A lot of films have those elements in them. But, I think that we can get it made today.
Will you do another project with The Wachowskis?
Silver: There’s nothing right now. They’re off on their own path now. I’m not dealing with them now.
After doing The Losers, are you looking to pursue more comic book films?
Silver: Sure, of course. I’ve always wanted to make Swamp Thing. I like Swamp Thing. I think it’s a good idea, and I thought it would be a good venue for a 3-D movie, but there were rights issues with Swamp Thing. We were developing a script. We actually developed a couple of drafts and were close, but then, all of a sudden, it became evident that the motion picture rights were not held by Warner Bros. Even though DC owned the underlying material, the movie that was made by Embassy with Adrienne Barbeau was owned by another company. It’s complicated. So, we’re trying to work it out. Forbidden Planet was the same thing. I really want to make that movie, and it was very hard to clear the rights. It took years to get the rights cleared for that, but we finally cleared it, so I’d like to make that. I like that story. It’s The Tempest, but I like the way it evolved into that movie, so I’d like to make that one day.
How do you feel about how The Losers performed at the box office?
Silver: It didn’t work. I liked the movie. Looking at The A-Team and The Expendables, and they’re much more expensive films than The Losers was. It was a very inexpensive movie. And, we all went down there hoping to pull it off. I liked it, but either it wasn’t fresh enough, it wasn’t unique enough or it didn’t draw an audience enough.
What would you do differently, if you could do it again?
Silver: I don’t know. The Losers of the comic book is what we made. That’s what it was. We did what it was. I don’t know if having a lot of bigger names in it would have made a difference. Warner Bros. tried to make it 10 years ago, and maybe that’s when it should have been made.
Do you think that there just isn’t the interest, if it’s not Batman, Spider-Man, Superman or Iron Man?
Silver: Iron Man was not a prevalent, important character. He wasn’t. Downey wanted the role desperately, at the beginning, and they didn’t really want to go with him. He didn’t even really know about Iron Man. Yes, he was on television in the morning, but it wasn’t like Batman, Spider-Man and Superman. But, that movie is the single most saleable character that Marvel owns now – more than Spider-Man, and more than anything – because of those movies. Men in Black was a weird, off-the-grid comic book. It depends on how the movie is. And, when Downey made Iron Man, he wasn’t Will Smith. It’s just that that movie did create a lot of interest in the character and in those comic books, in general. And, they’re making a third Men in Black now. The reality is that each movie has got to be seen in its own light. Warner Bros. tried to make a Justice League movie for years and then they shut it down. Now, The Avengers will be the first superhero team movie. With Downey and Chris Evans, who is in The Losers, and all these guys, it could be a huge movie. We’ll see.