Exclusive: Shawn Levy Talks INTERNS, FANTASTIC VOYAGE & FRANKENSTEIN; Says INTERNS Might Shoot This Summer

by     Posted 2 years, 253 days ago

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Coming off the success of Date Night and Real Steel, director Shawn Levy has a number of high-profile projects on his plate. He’s been attached to a 3D remake of Fantastic Voyage for quite a while, with James Cameron onboard as producer, and he’s set to take on a new iteration of Frankenstein. While Levy became involved in both of these projects last year, we haven’t heard much about their status as of late. Steve recently got the chance to sit down for an exclusive interview with Levy regarding the Best Visual Effects Oscar nomination for Real Steel, and the director talked quite a bit about what he has coming up. Yesterday we ran the portion of the conversation where Levy discussed the visual effects in Real Steel and the status of the Real Steel sequel, and today we’ve got updates on a few more of his upcoming projects.

Levy revealed that he’ll be using motion-capture SimulCam for the monsters (plural) in Frankenstein, and he also talked about how they’re tweaking the development status of the film in response to the competition project I, Frankenstein starring Aaron Eckhart. In addition, Levy talked about his ambitious practical effects approach to Fantastic Voyage, and revealed that he may actually film the comedy Interns with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson this summer. Hit the jump for much more.

Shawn Levy on the set of REAL STEEL_2Regarding Frankenstein, Levy is planning to use motion-capture SimulCam (the same process he used on Real Steel) to film the monsters:

“In the case of Frankenstein, my whole approach is based on a mo-cap SimulCam playback so that it’s not a dude with scars on his face. It’s not just kind of latex and a costume; it would be a motion-capture performance of the monster—I can give away maybe not too much by saying there’s more than one in our version—and then I would go to Europe, shoot the movie, do scenes with the real actors and I would be able to see the motion-captured monster in real time due to SimulCam, so yes that is our technological VFX paradigm for Frankenstein.”

frankenstein-classic-01It’s an interesting approach, but it worked splendidly on Real Steel.  As for when production might begin on Frankenstein, Levy admitted that the production start on another Frankenstein project has affected his iteration. He and Fox are making sure their Frankenstein is just right before it goes forward:

Frankenstein is a great script. Everyone now knows, because people have seen Chronicle, that Max Landis is a hell of a goddamn writer and his script for Frankenstein is awesome. Here’s what doesn’t help: there’s another movie that is already shooting called I, Frankenstein… It’s a wildly different movie, but in the culture it’s another Frankenstein movie, it’s gonna come out next year. So if anything, that movie has kind of raised the bar for the studio and I to cast the living hell out of our Frankenstein.

shawn-levy-imagePrevious reports claimed that Fox was wary of the large budget for the project, but Levy says the concern has more to do with finding the right cast:

“That script is ready to rock, I am ready to rock on that script, but as was reported it’s not a small budget. My Frankenstein, it ain’t gonna get done well and the way I would insist on doing it for $35 million. So anytime you’re in like $70-$80 million for a movie, you’re really thinking about ‘Well who are these two guys?’ in our case it’s Igor and Victor Frankenstein, ‘What’s the juicy pairing that makes that a good bet? That makes that financial bet smart and worth it?’ because I am in the business of not squandering the money the studios give me to make movies… It was more like ‘Okay if that’s the budget, we’ve gotta make sure we cast it really, really right’ and so that’s the moment we’re in.”

fantastic-voyage-posterAs for Fantastic Voyage, Levy says they’re currently making script tweaks, but he’s got a very specific vision for the finished film:

“We all remember the original or we have a dim memory, but it was like miasmic views out a submarine window. It was like ‘Oh globules of blood cells!’ My whole thing with Jim Cameron who’s the producer on that movie is like, let’s get out of the boat; let’s be tactile and hands-on. Part of the reason why the budget for my Fantastic Voyage is not small is that we’re talking about free dives in the body with real full-scale underwater sets, so it’s not just looking at the shit, maybe it’s climbing up the fucking spine. It’s real, full-scale underwater 3D practical sets.”

This is nice to hear, as the initial instinct these days would be to create an entire CG environment and add your actors in accordingly. Practical underwater sets standing in for the human body won’t exactly be easy, but I’m interested to see Levy take the challenge on.

vince-vaughn-owen-wilson-wedding-crashersThough Frankenstein and Fantastic Voyage have been on Levy’s radar for a while now, his next project might actually be a comedy that he only recently began working on. While on the set of Neighborhood Watch, which he’s producing, Levy struck up a rapport with star Vince Vaughn who pitched him a comedy called Interns that would reteam Vaughn with Owen Wilson:

“Vince and I spent a lot of time together and we kind of hit it off and he started telling me about this idea he had, which was him and Owen [Wilson] as interns at Google, and I was like ‘Well that’s a juicy idea.’ I don’t have to work super hard to see the viability of that idea because it’s more than ‘shades of Old School, shades of Wedding Crashers,’ really what it’s also about is a fucking world filled with pretty much anyone over 30 who already has the feeling that they’re obsolete in their own time, that they’re not even living in their own world anymore, that they play by their own rules but they’re fucking analog guys in a digital moment.”

shawn-levy-image-2The pic would see Vaughn and Wilson as friends who get laid off and decide to become interns at a Google-like startup. They soon discover that they’re completely lost in a sea of fresh-faced twentysomethings who know infinitely more about the digital world than they do. It’s material that’s definitely in Vaughn and Wilson’s wheelhouse, and something I’d love to see them hit out of the park. Levy revealed that if they come up with a great script, they could possibly shoot the film this summer:

“We just had a series of conversations about it and so yes, we are now working on—it was [Vaughn’s] screenplay, we’re working on kind of a revision to it, but it feels like a big idea if we can get it right, and if we get it right maybe we make it as soon as this summer.”

As for the rating, Levy says that’s a big question that they haven’t quite settled yet, but he’s leaning towards R. If you’re gonna get Vaughn and Wilson back together, I think you’ve gotta go R. Their comedic sensibilities compliment each other perfectly, and it’s the R-rated verbal flourishes that make their wordplay so much fun to watch. You can check out the portion of the interview where Levy talks about Frankenstein, Fantastic Voyage, and Interns below, followed by a time index/partial transcript of the conversation. Look for more from Steve’s interview with Levy in the coming days, and be sure to check out what he had to say about Real Steel and the Real Steel sequel if you missed it.


Here’s a time index:

  • frankenstein-poster:02 Update on Frankenstein: “I’ve been tinkering/toying with both Frankenstein and Fantastic Voyage. The teams that I’ve been prepping are the same that I did Real Steel with. Both movies would involve some of the same technology. In the case of Frankenstein, my whole approach is based on a mo-cap SimulCam playback so that it’s not a dude with scars on his face. It’s not just kind of latex and a costume; it would be a motion-capture performance of the monster—I can give away maybe not too much by saying there’s more than one in our version—and then I would go to Europe, shoot the movie, do scenes with the real actors and I would be able to see the motion-captured monster in real time due to SimulCam, so yes that is our technological VFX paradigm for Frankenstein.”
  • 1:00 Update on Fantastic Voyage: “In Fantastic Voyage, which is now still kind of undergoing some script tweaks, that movie we all remember the original or we have a dim memory, but it was like miasmic views out a submarine window. It was like ‘Oh globules of blood cells!’ My whole thing with Jim Cameron who’s the producer on that movie is like, let’s get out of the boat; let’s be tactile and hands-on. Part of the reason why the budget for my Fantastic Voyage is not small is that we’re talking about free dives in the body with real full-scale underwater sets, so it’s not just looking at the shit, maybe it’s climbing up the fucking spine. It’s real, full-scale underwater 3D practical sets, and that is the lesson of this guy [points to practical model of Noisy Boy from Real Steel], I would not do a VFX spectacle film without something tactile and textural and real… For sure [Real Steel] has shaped how I approach big films in the future.”
  • shawn-levy-image-32:23 Talks about where they’re at in the development phase of Frankenstein and how I, Frankenstein has affected their film: “Frankenstein is a great script. Everyone now knows, because people have seen Chronicle, that Max Landis is a hell of a goddamn writer and his script for Frankenstein is awesome. Here’s what doesn’t help: there’s another movie that is already shooting called I, Frankenstein… It’s a wildly different movie, but in the culture it’s another Frankenstein movie, it’s gonna come out next year. So if anything, that movie has kind of raised the bar for the studio and I to cast the living hell out of our Frankenstein. That script is ready to rock, I am ready to rock on that script, but as was reported it’s not a small budget. My Frankenstein, it ain’t gonna get done well and the way I would insist on doing it for $35 million. So anytime you’re in like $70-$80 million for a movie, you’re really thinking about ‘Well who are these two guys?’ in our case it’s Igor and Victor Frankenstein, ‘What’s the juicy pairing that makes that a good bet? That makes that financial bet smart and worth it?’ because I am in the business of not squandering the money the studios give me to make movies. I haven’t let them down yet, I don’t wanna let them down. So the [initial] report was off in that it wasn’t about ‘Oh no we got the budget to Frankenstein and we don’t wanna make it’, it was more like ‘Okay if that’s the budget, we’ve gotta make sure we cast it really, really right’ and so that’s the moment we’re in.”
  • 4:52 Talks about how Interns came to be and the status of the project: “Vince and I spent a lot of time together and we kind of hit it off and he started telling me about this idea he had, which was him and Owen [Wilson] as interns at Google, and I was like ‘Well that’s a juicy idea.’ I don’t have to work super hard to see the viability of that idea because it’s more than ‘shades of Old School, shades of Wedding Crashers,’ really what it’s also about is a fucking world filled with pretty much anyone over 30 who already has the feeling that they’re obsolete in their own time, that they’re not even living in their own world anymore, that they play by their own rules but they’re fucking analog guys in a digital moment. Honestly, Vince can talk, that dude is so damn articulate and compelling and he’s like ‘Come on Levy let’s fucking do it, we’ll bust that shit out!’ We just had a series of conversations about it and so yes, we are now working on—it was his screenplay, we’re working on kind of a revision to it, but it feels like a big idea if we can get it right, and if we get it right maybe we make it as soon as this summer. [R or PG-13] is a really big question, and while it’s not settled I am leaning towards R… If it were up to me today, as we sit here, I’m leaning R.”

 




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