Everyone makes movies, but Edgar Wright makes movies with sprinkles on top. I wish I could take credit for that line but that’s how the director of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World described many of the video game references in his action comedy which will be released August 13. Collider talked to Wright on several occasions, and in this roundtable discussion he talked not only about Scott Pilgrim but also Seinfeld, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, a decided lack of Ant Man updates and even how Nintendo’s resident genius Shigeru Miyamoto got to see some of the film early.
Hit the jump to read all about it, including some spoilers. And don’t forget to look for the sprinkles on top.
As Wright sat down I immediately asked him how he felt someone who never played video games would react to this movie. “I would hope all the stylistic flourishes are exactly that, flourishes, kind of like dressing on top,” he said.” He added that he himself is a “lapsed gamer” and hasn’t had a console in his house for a decade. “People assume the film is more contemporary than it is where as a lot of the illusions to games in the books and in the film are all at least 25 years old.”
The next question was about if anyone ever asked him why the film would change aspect ratios. He said no one ever asked and that, in fact, some people don’t even notice it. “More of the thing is how do we do a pan and scan for Wal mart, I don’t know how that works,” he said.
Wright was then asked why he chose to not only adapt Bryan Lee O’Malley’s story but his style too, much in the way filmmakers like Zack Snyder and Robert Rodriguez have done in the past. “Bryan’s artwork is a lot more stylized than Dave Gibbons or Frank Miller (NOTE: Give Wright awesome points for naming the artists of the comics that the movies referenced were based on), even in proportions and stuff. Because it was like a comedy, not gritty like Sin City or realistic like The Dark Knight or Iron Man, I just really wanted to embrace the pop art nature of the comics,” he said. He then compared the inspiration for the look of the film to the Adam West Batman, Danger: Diabolik and Flash Gordon. “There’s a sense of fun in those,” Wright said. “Because this was a comedy there was a chance to be able to put that on screen without anybody accusing it of not being true to the books.”
The question of clearances came up next and Wright said that, obviously, everything had to be cleared and that even the t-shirts were a “Herculean task.” For one piece of music though, composer Nigel Godrich wanted to orchestra a piece of score from The Legend of Zelda and because Nintendo is such a family company, they would need to see the context. “They don’t want their sounds used in Requiem For A Dream when someone is shooting up heroin,” Wright said. So apparently a 50 second clip of Scott walking to the bathroom and then into a hallway was showed to Shigeru Miyamoto (the man who created Mario, Zelda and more) before it could get cleared.
And you can’t talk about the clearances in Scott Pilgrim without discussing the Seinfeld scene. Wright said the idea came from a single panel in the comics where it said “Studio Audience – Ahhh” and that gave him the idea to continue the sitcom theme into the next scene. However, this lead Wright to talking about the absurdity of the film in general. “That’s the great thing about this film, if you were to analyze it in terms of why you are watching like this it’s that you are watching the film inside Scott Pilgrim’s head,” Wright explained. ”He’s a day dreamer and this is his ideal, unrealistic version of events. Scott Pilgrim is the hero of the movie inside his own head and this is that movie”
The conversation then turned to the video game structure of the film, which is lifted from the comics, but taken to the next level in the movie. That lead to a spoilerific discussion of the ending battle with Gideon, a deleted scene from that sequence that will be on the DVD, and how the genesis of the whole idea of the ending was in place long before the books were even finished. Wright then went on to tell the well known story of how he and screenwriter Michael Bacall had been working on the script for years while O’Malley was still writing his comic books. So there is some stuff that is in the film that’s not in the books, and of course vice versa. Then there are things such as the 5th and 6th evil exes, the twins, that totally different because they are based on O’Malley’s outline he gave Wright and Bacall years ago.
“The film is choose your own adventure version of the books,” Wright said. “Scott Pilgrim, because of the time compression, makes slightly different choices and time compression itself leads to different kind of outcomes. By bringing everything into 10 days means the outcome of Knives’ story is very different to the books.”
Also, Wright explained a bit more about keeping the band together. Literally. “We tried to structurally match Scott Pilgrim’s projection though his labors of Hercules with Sex Bob-Omb and their battle of the bands, so the ensemble could stay within the film all the way through. So there was some kind of passage for Sex Bob-Omb as well as Scott Pilgrim.”
As roundtables often do, once the business of the film at hand is done, the conversation moves on to new projects. And for Wright that means Ant Man, the third film of his Cornetto Trilogy and Tintin, which he did some script work on.
“Whenever people ask about new projects, I have no new news because I’ve been working on this film solidly for two years since July 2008,” Wright said. “So I feel embarrassed when someone says ‘What’s happening with Ant Man?‘ and I say, ‘Well if you refer to that statement I made in 2008 its basically the same thing.’ Once this is done I’m going to take a bit of a break and do more writing. It always embarrasses me because websites ask about Ant Man and then they’ll be a thing that says ‘EDGAR WRIGHT GIVES ANT MAN UPDATE,’ it makes it sound like I’ve been sitting by the phone saying, ‘Want to hear some more about Ant Man?”
He did, however, say that The World’s End, or whatever the third film in the Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz Trilogy will be is “not exactly” an apocalypse movie. “We want to write something which is kind of light, even within the kind of films that we make and sort of personal, Wright said. ”It’s nice in a way that we have a chance to get older and deal with different themes really.”
Wright spend only 8 weeks working on the script to Tintin and never even got to visit the set because he was shooting Scott Pilgrim. His job, basically, was to bring as much of Herge into it as possible. “I read all those books as a kid so I tried to remember my inner 8 year old and how I felt at the time. It’s something I worked on where I didn’t try and put my own paw prints on it.”
He then went on to gush about the Scott Pilgrim video game, how a decision was made early on to use the comic characters, not the movie characters, and that the developers – Ubisoft – had the script, books, storyboards and animatics to work off of. He was so impressed that, if you wait until the end of the credits, you’ll get a little surprise linking everything together.
Look for a lot more interviews with the cast of Scott Pilgrim very soon.