Exclusive: Producer Mike De Luca on Nicolas Cage’s DRIVE ANGRY and Alex Proyas’ DRACULA YEAR ZERO

     January 13, 2010

Drive Angry and Dracula Year Zero slice.jpg

If you’ve been reading Collider the past few days, you’ve seen what I’m calling “7 Days with Producer Mike De Luca”.  The reason for the name is, I was able to speak with De Luca for an extended amount of time and rather than post everything at once, I’ve broken our conversation up into smaller parts.  I’ve already posted what he said about the Metal Gear Solid movie and Ghost Rider 2, and now it’s time for his updates on Drive Angry and Dracula Year Zero.

If you haven’t heard of Drive Angry, it’s going to star Nicolas Cage and it’ll center on a man who is chasing the people who killed his daughter and kidnapped her baby.  It’s going to be a hard R and in 3D.  Also, it’s directed by Patrick Lussier, who recently did the very fun My Bloody Valentine 3D.  According to De Luca, “it’s hyper pulpy.”  He also says we can expect “car parts and body parts flying at you in 3D.”  Awesome.

The other update was on Alex Proyas’ Dracula Year Zero.  According to De Luca, the project is still at Universal and he’s trying to get the studio to think it could be one of their big tentpole releases.  He says,  “as written it’s literally on the scale of Braveheart with Dracula.”  Much more after the jump:

Mike De Luca image.jpegWhile I love listing bullet points of interest, for these two particular movies, I really recommend reading the interview below. De Luca does a great job explaining both projects and why each of them is cool.  And in the case of Dracula Year Zero – a project that has no green light – it’s very interesting to hear from someone in the know what’s going on behind the scenes and what the movie is about.

Here’s our conversation.  Drive Angry is first.

You mentioned Drive Angry which is a project I’m really looking forward to. What can you tell people about it that maybe they haven’t read in a log line?Drive Angry teaser poster movie Nic Cage.jpg

Mike De Luca: It’s hyper pulpy. It’s kind of like hyper-pulp, just kind of blood drenched, heavy, heavy car chase action that if you’re a fan of early Shane Black scripts. If you’re a fan of from the 70’s Two Lane Blacktop or Vanishing Point and you’re a fan of Dust ‘Til Dawn or Sin City, this kind of like glorious exhiltation of pulp movie-making. It aspires to be in that cannon, so that’s my torch way of describing why I’m excited by it because I like all those things. And Drive Angry to me had a blend of things I liked about Two Lane Blacktop and Duel and Vanishing Point and things I loved about Dust ’til Dawn and things I loved about Sin City. And where we’re not as opulent as some of those films, we’re trying to be of that spirit.

I know you have Nic Cage and pardon me for not knowing off the top of my head other cast, but…

De Luca: There actually is none right now, so.

Oh okay, so I’m….

De Luca: You’re good.

I’m good. Exactly. Are there a lot of other leads for this film or is it primarily like Nic Cage?

nicolas_cage_image__1_.jpgDe Luca: It’s a 2-hander. There’s a young female lead that hasn’t been cast yet, that we’re trying to find the right balance to play opposite Nick. And then there’s two…there’s one semi-antagonist and one true antagonist that I think really jack the picture up to Nic’s level of kind of entertainment value.

I’m assuming…is this a hard-R movie?

De Luca: It’s a hard-R.

Ah yes. Big smile on my face.

De Luca: Yeah, it’s a hard-R.

Now, is this the kind of film that…

De Luca: Car parts and body parts flying at you in 3-D.

See, that’s what I wanted to know, is that one of these films where you’re going to sort of have fun with like the My Bloody Valentine 3D?

De Luca: Yes.

Mentioning that, is this the kind of film where you’re going to have that kind of fun with the audience?

De Luca: Well, of course these are the writers and the same directors of My Bloody Valentine, so it’s designed to…we’re not the high minded 3D of James Cameron. We’re the low 5, very fun, in your face kind of exploitation 3D.


bram_stoker_s_dracula_movie_image_gary_oldman.jpgWhat is circling near the top for you?  You have like 30 projects listed on IMDb.

De Luca: Well, Drive Angry we talked about. It has a March start date. We have something that I love to death with Alex Proyas at Universal called Dracula Year Zero that we’re hoping to kind of see if we can get a compelling package for that together to get Universal thinking that we can be one of their bigger pictures for the near future. So I’m going to try to put a lot of time and attention into that one because I would love to see that see the light of day.

Yeah, I would too actually.

De Luca: Oh, have you read that?

I try to avoid…we talked about this a while ago…

De Luca: You’re right, yeah. You’re not a big….

Well no, I try not to read a lot of scripts…the set visits I do are enough to expose me to everything.

De Luca: Right.

Saying that, I think we talked about the whole Dracula thing where you mentioned that it’s a really big movie.  Could you sort of tell people like….I mean what’s a little bit more. Have things changed in the last year or two on it?

bram_stoker_s_dracula_movie_poster_1992.jpgDe Luca: No, these writers came up with the ingenious-what I think is ingenious-approach combining historical Dracula with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. So it chronicles the efforts of a young prince, Vlad of Transylvania trying to keep the Ottoman empire and the Turk’s of the time from using his small country as a stepping stone to invade Europe. So there’s a historical basis for all of that history that’s in the script, but when his back is up against the wall and he can’t figure out how to keep the Turkish army out of his country and keep their hands off his country’s children, which they want to kidnap and press into their army as something they used to call the Jannisserie core, I guess the Roman’s did a version of it also, but this taking of male children from host countries and pressing them into military service for the invading army is another thing he’s trying to prevent. Because his own son is being threatened with that kidnapping. And in the script that we have, he was actually a victim of it himself. He earned the reputation of being the impaler while he was serving the Turks.

One Turk in particular, which is the antagonist in the movie, so in a moment of desperation he looks at this mountain top in Transylvania that all the gypsies in his country say is haunted and full of bad black magic. And he’s never believed in any of that supernatural kind of what he thinks is hogwash. But in a moment of desperation he ascends that mountain to see if there’s any truth to any kind of power that he could use to keep the invading army out. And he finds something that gets him to where we have come to know him as Dracula and uses that power source to kind of fight the Turks after he’s changed.

Well it’s interesting though with the success of obviously the Twilight films and vampires and that kind of stuff, do you think it’s easier to sort of do this kind of…do you think there’s a new angle on this or do you think that Twilight is like a separate kind of entity that doesn’t apply to the others?

Dracula image (1).jpgDe Luca: I think it applies. I think vampires are endlessly appropriate candidates for reinvention because there’s something in the DNA in that mythology that appeals to every generation. Every generation owns their own version of the vampire myth. For me growing up because I was a film geek there was a little bit of the Christopher Lee Dracula movies until the Langella movie. For other people it’s Blade. For other people Underworld. For kids now it’s Twilight to the extent that Twilight kind of transcends vampire mythology because it’s also Romeo and Juliet and it’s also any love across the tracks, you know, impossible unattainable object romance that teens really embrace when you’re going through that part of your life. But I think it’s always right for reinvention and I think there’s something in the DNA of that myth that appeals to all demographics.  And I think that’s why you can get away with so many different iterations at once.

So basically the hold up, just to be clear, is sort of finding…because it sounds like it’s a really big movie?

De Luca: Right. Finding the right…the comfort level in terms of cast, budget, you know how we’re going to the effects.  As written it’s literally on the scale of Braveheart with Dracula, so it’s a lot of…it’s armies. It’s an invading Turkish army. It’s a lot of supernatural action. It’s wonderful. Like it’s an epic love story. It’s got everything you want in a movie like this but it’s tricky and it’s big so we’re trying to figure out how to do it in the most efficient way.

I completely get it. So this is just something that…so this is basically your….

De Luca: Huge passion project, yeah.

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