Critics who think a narrative adaption of The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters hit a kill screen should check with Seth Gordon first. The 2007 documentary tells the David vs. Goliath quest for the world record score on the arcade obsession Donkey Kong. Talk of a feature adaptation began almost immediately. Getting it out of development became another matter. Gordon says Kong is definitely on.
We caught up with the director after a screening of his new documentary Freakonomics (made with some of the highest-profile documentary directors in the business). Gordon responded, “You want to see my calendar, the roundtable set up for next week?” He continued, “there’s been a lot of interest from the agencies” and “it’s a “passion project for a handful of people at New Line.” He cautioned, however, “The odds are stacked against it … Just because it’s a movie and hardly any get made.”
Hit the jump for the full audio & transcript of the interview along with the full details on Kong, whether Johnny Depp is attached, how Freakonomics hits very close to home & whether there’s a music film in his future.
Gordon was at Tribeca for the world premiere of Freakonomics, which he executive produced. He also directed interstitials that bind the four short documentaries together into a cohesive narrative. The film is based on the NY Times bestseller that uses economics to break down subjects ranging from the impact of baby names and the efficiency of bribing teens to get good grades to whether legalized abortion reduces crime rates. Gordon’s parents are both social scientists, so it’s familiar territory for him. Unfailingly polite & affable, he even included his father Andrew on the conversation.
Here’s the transcript, or click here to listen to the audio.
Collider: Your parents are social scientists.
Seth Gordon: There’s one of ’em. (Points to his father Andrew, a University of Washington professor, who was in the audience)
So they must be more proud of this work or closer to this work (Seth laughs) than anything else than you’ve ever done.
SG: I think they, they understand the underlying material a lot better. For sure. Why, we could just ask him. (To his father) They’re asking if you’re prouder of this movie than other stuff I’ve done. (Everyone laughs)
Andrew Gordon: Not really. I think it’s terrific, but it’s one of a series of, of interesting pieces. But they’re true to the material & I think that’s always true & important.
Cool. (turning back to Seth) He’s very proud. But you’ve done, obviously, documentaries before. The King of Kong, one of them. I’ve got to ask you about (it). Is the feature narrative definitely dead?
SG: No, it’s not dead.
SG: You want to see my calendar, the roundtable set up for next week? Like, I think it’s a –
SG: As far as I can tell, it’s got every, as much sign of life of, as anything in development.
Is Johnny Depp (rumored to play Kong antagonist Billy Mitchell) or Greg Kinnear (rumored to play Kong “hero” Steve Wiebe) –
SG: There was never an attachment and we’ve… There’s been a lot of interest from the agencies and certain agents in getting attachments for certain actors and we’ve just tried to hold all of it at bay.
When do you think it could potentially happen?
SG: I’m doing a film for them this summer, New Line, so once that one’s done is the soonest I can do it. That’s all I can, I don’t know. It’s, it’s a passion project for a handful of people at New Line and we, you know, we’d hope that it can become a movie, but the odds are stacked against it, you know?
SG: Just because it’s a movie and hardly any get made.
Yeah, but you cast (The King Of Kong‘s main subject) Steve Wiebe in another, as an actor, in one of your films. (Four Christmases)
SG: Oh, two things now. He was just in a pilot I did for Fox. (Working title “Breaking In”)
What’s the pilot about?
SG: About, well, (reluctantly) about security. (Laughs) That’s all I can really say.
SG: No, about, like, physical and electronic security and a company that breaks in.
SG: No, he was just a cameo.
He was just a one-time…
SG: He’s a good luck charm.
That’s great. And last question, given your past connection to music documentary..
New York Doll. (He produced the 2005 documentary about Arthur “Killer” Kane of the rock band, The New York Dolls and worked on the 2006 Dixie Chicks documentary Shut Up & Sing)
SG: Yeah, yeah.
Would you ever do a music feature narrative?
SG: Oh totally! You mean, a narrative film about the music industry, in some way?
SG: Yeah, I would love to. Oh, that would be really fun.
Yeah. But no, no immediate plans, or anything like that –
SG: No, there are some scripts that are actually of that theme that I’ve read & been interested in, but I haven’t done it yet. There’s one (slight pause) anyway (smiles) that could happen. (Laughs) I can’t say anything. (Laughs)
Ok, ok, great. All right, well, thank you so much.
SG: Awesome! Nice meeting you.
All right. Nice to meet you