McG Gives Updates on SPRING AWAKENING, TINK, PUZZLE PALACE and More; Says He’ll Take a Baz Luhrmann Approach on SA

by     Posted 2 years, 266 days ago

Director McG has had quite the versatile career. He began by working in music videos before making his big screen debut with 2000’s Charlie’s Angels. The pic was a big success, and led McG down a career path that’s included dramas (We Are Marshall), television (pilots for Chuck and Fastlane), and a stab at the Terminator franchise with Terminator: Salvation. McG is now trying his hand at the romantic comedy genre with an action bent in this month’s This Means War starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy. Steve recently got the chance to speak with the director about the film, but McG also gave updates on pretty much every single upcoming project listed on his IMDb page.

The director talked about his adaptation of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening (his passion project), Dead Spy Running with Stephen Gaghan, the Tinkerbell update Tink, his Die Hard-esque project Puzzle Palace, The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League starring Amanda Seyfried, and more. He also informed Steve that his feature version of Ouija doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon.. Hit the jump to see what he had to say about his upcoming slate.

spring-awakening-jonathan-groff-lea-micheleMcG’s passion project is an adaptation of Spring Awakening. He’s planning on taking  a stylistic approach to the film in the vein of Baz Luhrmann:

“It’s my version of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story.  I’m going to do it with a Baz Luhrmann take on artistic privilege and the manner in which it looks, because it’s 19th century Germany, but it’s today.  I can’t wait to do it.  I love the music, and I love the story, and I love the relatability.  It’s basically youth against establishment, and there’s always room for that.”

Another project that McG might tackle next after This Means War is the Die Hard-esque Puzzle Palace:

“Puzzle Palace, I like a lot.  It’s a picture I might make next.  That’s with David Guggenheim, who’s a fantastic screenwriter, just did a picture with Tony Scott.  His brother is Mark Guggenheim.  That’s my answer to Die Hard. I love pictures of that nature.  It’s about a kid who has to restore his dad’s good name by breaking into 1 Police Plaza in New York, which is effectively the most secure building in the world after 9/11.”

On the producorial side of things, McG is high on a project called Dead Spy Running from Syriana writer-director Stephen Gaghan:

“Dead Spy Running we’re trying to get made out of Warner Bros. with Gaghan.  Gaghan’s writing it, and we’re trying to get Gaghan to direct it.  But he’s got scheduling stuff going on, and we have to get the script to a place where we’re ultimately going to make it, get the budget right.  Listen, now more than ever it’s really tough to get a film properly greenlit and off the ground.  There are a million ways for a film to fall apart, and very few for it to come together.  But that is a spy story for this generation.  It’s of the Social Network age.  Imagine those kids in Zuckerberg’s room in The Social Network.  One of them goes on to be a spy and uses his acumen of today’s world: DJ culture, Steve Jobs, the Apple store.  Which I say with respect to Bond, Bourne, and Hunt, they don’t really know that world.  But there’s a whole generation of kids that do.  And what if a spy came from that place?  Gaghan knows a lot about that world, so I’m hoping to get that done.  That’s a huge priority.”

Production is also looming closer on the Tinkerbell revamp Tink. The film will star Elizabeth Banks as the titular fairy, and McG revealed that they’re gearing up to pitch the finished script to studios:

Tink is getting very healthy.  There’s a great script that’s out at Disney.  I’m producing it with Adam ShankmanMary Viola, who runs my film division is doing it.  We’ve got a great script we like, so we’re about to appeal to Sean Bailey and Rich Ross, who run things out there at Disney and see if they have an appetite for making it.  It’s like Elf.  I love those movies.  Just imagine Tinkerbell in real life comes to our world.”

amanda-seyfried-imageAdditionally, The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League starring Amanda Seyfried is also gaining traction:

“That is getting a lot of momentum.  That’s got Amanda Seyfried in it.  It’s about a girl who reinvents herself.  She’s a humble, humdrum girl who finally has enough.  She reinvents herself and ends up attending an Ivy League school and dating the guy who’s a military cadet.  She did so by stealing someone’s identity, and she never meant to cause any harm.  But she realizes it’s very damaging.  It’s a personal character study that I think Amanda is going to crush.”

Finally, McG talked about projects that he’s no longer involved with. He left the Monster Squad reboot when he left to make Terminator: Salvation, and he was gearing up to make Quija before Universal had a change of heart:

“Yeah, I was getting ready to make Ouija with Michael Bay.  But they don’t want to make it out at Universal.  It’s a big, expensive movie, and they lost their appetite for movies in that space.  So I think that’s not happening, at least for awhile.  Even though Brian Goldner is a very big film fan, the guy that runs Hasbro.  Listen, their track record is irrefutable with G.I. Joe and that little thing called Transformers.”

mcg-imageYou can watch the portion of the interview in which McG talks about future projects below, followed by a full transcript. Look for Steve’s full interview with the director closer to the release of This Means War.

Here’s the timestamp for when he updates on the different projects.

  • Spring Awakening, a passion project based on the Tony-winning play.
  • 1:00 – Dead Spy Running, a technological spy movie that Stephen Gaghan is writing and possibly directing.
  • 2:10 – Face It, a romantic comedy.
  • 2:25 – Monster Squad.  He’s not involved anymore.
  • 2:35 – Medieval.  The status is up in the air at regency.
  • 2:45 – Tink, starring Elizabeth Banks as Tinkerbell.
  • 3:25 – I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President.  They haven’t cracked the script yet.
  • 3:35 – A mysterious untitled sci-fi adventure listed on his IMDB.
  • 4:00 – Puzzle Palace, a thriller like Die Hard about a boy who has to break in to 1 Police Plaza in New York.
  • 4:25 – Ouija.  He’s not involved anymore.
  • 4:50 – The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League, starring Amanda Seyfried as a girl who steals someones identity to attend an Ivy League school.

spring-awakening-posterCollider: You mentioned Spring Awakening.  For people who don’t know, could you talk a little  what it is about?  And where is it on your calendar?

McG: Well, I’m just finishing up this picture.  Like we just discussed, I have to still make cuts to the film to accommodate the PG-13 with Chelsea.  So I’m heading out of here to the editing room to accommodate that.  But I’m considering a couple different movies right now as my next one.  And I’m going to make Spring Awakening sooner or later because it’s my passion project.  It’s a banned 19th century play that was done on Broadway.  Music by Duncan Sheik.  The book’s by Steven Sater.  And it swept the Tonys.  It’s my version of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story.  I’m going to do it with a Baz Luhrmann take on artistic privilege and the manner in which it looks, because it’s 19th century Germany, but it’s today.  I can’t wait to do it.  I love the music, and I love the story, and I love the relatability.  It’s basically youth against establishment, and there’s always room for that.

Always.  Before I run out of time with you, according to the always-accurate IMDB, you’re involved in a whole bunch of things.  Would you mind giving me a quick update on certain things, letting people know where you’re at?  For example, Dead Spy Running.

McG: Dead Spy Running we’re trying to get made out of Warner Bros. with Gaghan.  Gaghan’s writing it, and we’re trying to get Gaghan to direct it.  But he’s got scheduling stuff going on, and we have to get the script to a place where we’re ultimately going to make it, get the budget right.  Listen, now more than ever it’s really tough to get a film properly greenlit and off the ground.  There are a million ways for a film to fall apart, and very few for it to come together.  But that is a spy story for this generation.  It’s of the Social Network age.  Imagine those kids in Zuckerberg’s room in The Social Network.  One of them goes on to be a spy and uses his acumen of today’s world: DJ culture, Steve Jobs, the Apple store.  Which I say with respect to Bond, Bourne, and Hunt, they don’t really know that world.  But there’s a whole generation of kids that do.  And what if a spy came from that place?  Gaghan knows a lot about that world, so I’m hoping to get that done.  That’s a huge priority.

That sounds cool.  Face It.

McG: Face It is something we’re producing at my company.  It’s Mary Viola’s project.  We’re doing it with Amy Baer, who used to run CBS Pictures.  And now she’s our producing partner.

Are you involved with Monster Squad?

McG: No.  I was developing it for awhile at Warner Bros., and then I went to do Terminator.  So that was it for Monster Squad.  But I love it.

Medieval.

McG: There’s a lot of turnover at Regency.  Arnon Milchan has a vision for what they want to make and what they don’t want to make.  So we’ll see if that lands or not, but that’s not that close to production right now.

tinkerbell-imageTink.

McG: Tink is getting very healthy.  There’s a great script that’s out at Disney.  I’m producing it with Adam Shankman.  Mary Viola, who runs my film division is doing it.  We’ve got a great script we like, so we’re about to appeal to Sean Bailey and Rich Ross, who run things out there at Disney and see if they have an appetite for making it.  It’s like Elf.  I love those movies.  Just imagine Tinkerbell in real life comes to our world.

Am I wrong that Elizabeth Banks is involved?

McG: She is indeed.  She’s going to be Tinkerbell.

There you go.  I have to read this off the card: I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President.

McG: It’s a property that we bought that’s really got no meat on the bone right now.  It’s a great idea, but we haven’t cracked the riddle of the script.  We’re nowhere near production on that.

I love this one.  Untitled McG Sci-Fi Adventure Project.

McG: I don’t even know what that means.

That’s literally what’s listed.

McG: I’m getting that tattoo, though.  I can promise you that.

I think that’s great, though.  That could be any project.

McG: Where does it list that it’s set up at?  I don’t even know what that means.

It’s on your resume on IMDB on the right side.  It says Untitled McG Sci-Fi Adventure Project.

McG: I have to get in there and poke around and clean that up a little bit.

this-means-war-movie-posterJust throwing that out there.  Puzzle Palace.

McG: Puzzle Palace, I like a lot.  It’s a picture I might make next.  That’s with David Guggenheim, who’s a fantastic screenwriter, just did a picture with Tony Scott.  His brother is Mark Guggenheim.  That’s my answer to Die Hard. I love pictures of that nature.  It’s about a kid who has to restore his dad’s good name by breaking into 1 Police Plaza in New York, which is effectively the most secure building in the world after 9/11.

There’s a Hasbro board game that you were rumored to be a part of for awhile.

McG: Yeah, I was getting ready to make Ouija with Michael Bay.  But they don’t want to make it out at Universal.  It’s a big, expensive movie, and they lost their appetite for movies in that space.  So I think that’s not happening, at least for awhile.  Even though Brian Goldner is a very big film fan, the guy that runs Hasbro.  Listen, their track record is irrefutable with G.I. Joe and that little thing called Transformers.

My final thing is The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League. I know you’re producing.

McG: That is getting a lot of momentum.  That’s got Amanda Seyfried in it.  It’s about a girl who reinvents herself.  She’s a humble, humdrum girl who finally has enough.  She reinvents herself and ends up attending an Ivy League school and dating the guy who’s a military cadet.  She did so by stealing someone’s identity, and she never meant to cause any harm.  But she realizes it’s very damaging.  It’s a personal character study that I think Amanda is going to crush.





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