From filmmaker Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Deliver Us From Evil tells the story of the real-life series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes that police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) began investigating in New York. As frightening events occur around the city, Sarchie teams up with an unconventional priest (Édgar Ramírez) who is schooled in the rituals of exorcism.
While at WonderCon to promote the film’s July 2nd theatrical release, producer Jerry Bruckheimer spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about being attracted to the procedural aspect of this story, why he responded to the true story of the book when he bought it 10 years ago, how even though the film tested very high, it’s all about the second weekend of release for him, how important the casting was, and what Scott Derrickson brings to this genre. He also talked about what it will take for Bad Boys 3 to get done, that they just got a first act in for the National Treasure 3 script last week, how close they are to getting Beverly Hills Cop 4 into production, why they’re looking to do Top Gun 2, why they’re moving into the cyber crimes area for a possible CSI spin-off CSI: Cyber, and how he’s developing a show for TNT. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: Well, procedurals are. This is part procedural, part thriller and part paranormal.
Was that combination what drew you to it?
BRUCKHEIMER: It was the book. We bought the book 10 years ago, and we responded to the fact that it was true and real and he experienced this. That’s what got us.
Were you surprised when you learned that it was a real-life story?
BRUCKHEIMER: You should see the tapes. It’s real to the people on the tapes, trust me. If you live in a world of faith, this reaffirms your faith. It really does. These people believe in it, and these priests bring them out of it because of their faith. It’s fascinating to watch.
This type of movie tends to either open at the beginning of the year or around Halloween, so July is an unusual time of year for this movie to be opening. Is that a testament to how the film came out and how good everybody feels about it?
BRUCKHEIMER: Well, it certainly is a testament to how good the film came out. Screen Gems has a lot of faith in it, for good reason. It tested very high with audiences. That’s never reassuring, until the movie is in its second weekend. I’ve had movies that tested through the roof and nobody showed up. But, this is not gonna be one of them.
Since we’ve only just started to see glimpses of the film, what can you say about the story that’s being told?
BRUCKHEIMER: It’s about a man who’s a detective, who comes up against the paranormal and doesn’t believe it. And then, he meets a priest who walks him through this world. He’s a skeptic until this becomes something very scary for him and his family. It’s about how he and the priest deal with it.
How important was the casting for something like this?
BRUCKHEIMER: Casting is so important, with any film you do. You have to get actors that you believe will fulfill the promise of the characters that are on the page. That’s what it’s all about. Eric [Bana] is somebody I’ve worked with in the past. He did Black Hawk Down with me. And (director) Scott [Derrickson] has a great eye for talent. I saw Édgar [Ramírez] in Carlos and said, “I have to work with this actor.” So, we brought him over and I tried to coerce him into doing it. I sat and had drinks with him one night and tried to convince him to do it, and he said, “I’ll think about it.” He met Scott and some other people, and he finally agreed to do it. And I’ve watched Olivia Munn’s work in the past and thought she was an excellent actress. And Joel [McHale] is a good friend of Scott, and Scott was always beating down my door to hire him to do this. He came in and added a much-needed levity to a dark subject.
What does Scott Derrickson bring to a film like this, that another director wouldn’t?
BRUCKHEIMER: He brings expertise. He was a theologian student. He’s an expert on this genre. He loves them and reads about them. He’s read every script and every book. He’s read about exorcisms. He just loves horror movies. Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose are two examples of things he really knows how to do.
His films are so scary because they don’t seem entirely impossible.
BRUCKHEIMER: I know. That’s the key to it. It’s the same thing that happens with this movie.
BRUCKHEIMER: I think everybody does. Anticipation is what this is all about, and that’s what an expert director uses. He strings it out and tries to make you anticipate something. Sometimes that happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s what Scott does so well, and I learned a lot from him, doing this.
So, what needs to be done to get Bad Boys 3 made?
BRUCKHEIMER: It’s so funny because we’ll get Sony real excited to make the movie, and then Will [Smith] is off doing two movies. And then, Will will come back and be real excited about it, and Sony will say, “Well, maybe it’s not the time for this.” And then, Ride Along came out and was a big hit, and now they’re all excited to make the movie, but Will is off doing something else. It’s just trying to get everybody together to make it. But, we’re working on the script. We have a lot of faith and hope that we’ll do it.
Is it the same thing with National Treasure 3? Nicolas Cage has said that he wants to make it, and it’s clearly something the director also wants to do, but it hasn’t gone into production yet.
BRUCKHEIMER: Those are the hardest movies to make ‘cause they’re all based on clues. It’s so difficult to work them out. But, we got a first act in [on Friday], and Jon [Turteltaub] was very excited about it and I’m very excited about it. Hopefully, the first act will lead into the second act and the third act, and we’ll get this thing going.
As a producer, do you ever get to the point where you have to decide that it’s past the window of opportunity?
BRUCKHEIMER: Never. It’s been 35 years since we made Top Gun, and people still want to see it. It catapulted Tom Cruise’s career. Not that he wasn’t on his way prior to that, but it put him in the stratosphere, and he did an amazing job on it. He’s a pilot and he wants to make it. I’ve teamed up with David Ellison, who’s another producer that’s also a pilot. We’re all working very hard to get it done.
After the Beverly Hills Cop series didn’t go, is that what shifted the focus back to do Beverly Hills Cop 4?
BRUCKHEIMER: I wasn’t involved in the series. It’s Eddie Murphy’s excitement, and Paramount has always wanted to do it. And then, we got a director, Brett [Ratner], who is very close with Eddie. He’s worked with Eddie, and they have a great relationship. He’s all excited about it. So, we’ve got three elements. We’ve got a studio who wants to make it. We have a director who they want to work with. And Eddie, who’s the key to it, wants to do it. So, it’s a lot closer than a lot of the other things we’re working at.
You’ve had a lot of success in TV. Are there any pilots that you’re most excited about?
BRUCKHEIMER: Yeah, we’re doing a pilot for Fox in July. We just shot something for another CSI, that’s CSI: Cyber, with Patricia Arquette. We’ll see if CBS puts it on the air, but it’s really a good piece. It’s very scary.
BRUCKHEIMER: It was an idea. I was watching some movies and I thought, “There’s an opportunity to make another CSI.” And we met this woman who works with the FBI, and she travels around the world dealing with cyber crime. It’s really scary stuff. You think about the dark net, where you can do just about anything, and that’s what she searches through and travels everywhere to solve these crimes. That’s how it all started.
Are you looking to develop anything for cable?
BRUCKHEIMER: Yeah, we’d like to. We’re developing something for TNT. We’ve had things at HBO that haven’t gone. We’re out there. We’ll keep coming up with ideas and trying to get the cable world and the networks to work with us.
Deliver Us From Evil opens in theaters on July 2nd.