J.J. Abrams Talks SUPER 8

     February 6, 2011


Tonight, Paramount aired a new TV spot for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming film Super 8 (click here to go watch it).  The notoriously secretive Abrams spoke to Hero Complex about the film because everyone knows that secrecy only matters if a film is six or more months away.  All that’s really been known about the film up to this point is that it will have a 80s Amblin Entertainment vibe that executive producer Steven Spielberg is bringing to the project.  It also takes place in a small fictional town of Lillian Heights, Ohio in 1979, involves a train crash, something trying to escape from the wreckage, and a Super 8mm camera.  Now Abrams has decided to reveal a bit more about the film.

Hit the jump for what he had to say about his highly-guarded project [minor spoilers ahead].  Super 8 is due out June 10th.

super-8-movie-image-01Speaking to Hero Complex, Abrams realizes that there are limitations to his secrecy:

“To me, all people need to know is that it’s an adventure about a small town and it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s scary and there’s a mystery: What is this thing that has escaped? What are the ramifications of its presence? And what is the effect on people? But I know that’s not enough. Look, I feel we need a little bit of a coming-out party because we are up against massive franchises and brands and most people don’t know what ‘Super 8′ means. We’re a complete anomaly in a summer of huge films … and we don’t want to be so silent or coy that people don’t care or don’t hear about it.”

He’s right about most people not knowing what “Super 8” means.  At the Super Bowl party I attended tonight, folks thought it was a reference to the motel chain.  So what does “Super 8” mean in regards to the film?

The Paramount Pictures release is set in Ohio in 1979 and introduces a troupe of six youngsters who are using a Super 8 camera to make their own zombie movie. One fateful night, their project takes them to a lonely stretch of rural railroad tracks and, as the camera rolls, calamity strikes — a truck collides with an oncoming locomotive and a hellacious derailment fills the night with screaming metal and raining fire. Then something emerges from the wreckage, something decidedly inhuman.

super-8-movie-image-kyle-chandler-01Abrams says that this is his favorite kind of movie because it’s difficult to pigeonhole it into a single genre:

“As the process went along I  realized I had the potential makings of  my favorite sort of movie, which is the one that is the hardest genre to define,” Abrams said. “That because you could say — and be right — that it’s a science fiction movie; or you could say — and be right — that it’s a love story; or you could say — and be right — that it’s a comedy; or you could say — and be right — that it’s a special-effects spectacle. That sort of cocktail is for me what I love about movies…that was the beginnings of this movie coming together.”

The project came together from two individual scripts.  One was a vague, non-fantastical idea about a group of kids who see the world and each other through a Super 8 camera.  The other was an interesting premise about a train that’s headed to Area 51 but never makes it.  Spielberg connected with the idea to take a personal story and combine it with sci-fi as he did in 1982 with E.T. The film begins with a small-town factory death and the emotional impact it leaves.

“This is a movie about overcoming loss and finding your way again and finding your own voice,” Abrams said. “A boy whose lost his mother and the man whose lost his wife. There’s this father who, because of the era, never really had to be the parent. He’s a good man, he works hard, he’s a deputy in the town, but he’s never stepped up as father.”

Hero Complex’s story ends with the challenges for Abrams in making this movie.  Not only is it going up against powerhouses like X-Men (June 3rd) and Green Lantern (June 17th), but it’s also Abrams’ first experience directing a cast of kids.  Super 8 will be a tough sell, but simply by virtue of not being a franchise title, it’s already standing out.  It also has no competition on its opening weekend, which should help.

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