On a recent visit to the Chicago-based set of the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form gave us online types a good hour with which to poke and prod about that film and countless other projects in the works. The Elm St. stuff will have to wait until the time is right, but at the moment, you're just a hop, skip and jump away from finding out where Platinum Dunes currently stands with a Friday the 13th sequel, their present involvement in reported remakes of The Birds and Rosemary's Baby, and how exactly the little-seen Horsemen ended up slipping through the cracks last spring...
On their reported remake of The Birds
Q: What's the central challenge? Is it just Hitchcock always being in the background?
BF: That's huge. And the limitations that birds... What do they do? They peck and poke.
AF: And poop.
BF: Right, so there's not a lot of variety as to what can happen.
AF: You start with the sh***ing and you build up to pecking and then they poke.
BF: Yeah. So it's hard. It's a much harder movie to do. As you guys know, we lay ourselves out there and get annihilated out there online all day long, and that movie just opens us up to a whole different level of annihilation.
Q: Then why pursue it?
BF: ...as a producer, you pursue a bunch of things and the ones that come to fruition, you make and the other ones you try and it's a good effort. At this point, we're gonna make this ["Nightmare"] and we're gonna make the next "Friday the 13th," I hope, and then we'll see where we are with scripts and material, but it doesn't feel like that's up next for us.
On their rumored sequel to Friday the 13th
Q: Acknowledging that there's no script and no green light for "Friday 2"... are you considering taking Jason more over-the-top in terms of kills, in terms of his physicality and what he does?
BF: If we're vulnerable on [the first film], it's that people thought our kills weren't clever enough, so whatever we need to do to make those kills seem clever in the second film is what we're going to do. I don't think that turning him into a space-going astronaut would be the direction that we're going to go in... (laughs) ...That's a criticism that really goes to my heart, that I feel like I've failed the fans if those kills aren't original or that they're not unique or grisly. You can read the comments and see where the truth is, and you can see as a producer where maybe that kill could've been better or we could've done something more clever here. However, we can bring more clever kills to the second one, that's what we're going to do.
Q: Can you see it in 3-D?
BF: It's certainly been talked about. The financial ramifications of doing a movie in 3-D on a budget that size, 'cause it's not like they're going to say to us "yeah, well, why don't you make a sequel and here's twice as much money," it doesn't go that way. Our movies are virtually all the exact same budget and I guarantee you if we make that movie it'll be the same budget as the original. And we'll say, "hey, do you want to do it in 3-D?," and they'll say, "yeah, let's talk about it," and then when they see that it's six or seven million dollars more they'll probably opt out unless something that we are not expecting happens. I suspect it will not be in 3-D, although we'd love to make a 3-D horror movie. We'd love to do it; they just don't throw that money our way.
Here's the other problem: we don't have a release date. We don't have a green-lit movie. Let me be very clear, 'cause last time we were talking about this movie, it got back to Toby Emmerich that I said that this movie we're on right now was green-lit before it was, so let me be very clear: "Friday the 13th: Part 2" -- we don't have a script, it's not green-lit, and we have no idea what's going to happen. If it gets green-lit and we're able to mount it in a reasonable amount of time, we would hope the movie would open on August 13, 2010.
Q: And it will take place in the snow.
BF: (laughs) No, I can tell you this, the movie itself will not take place in the snow. I don't want to sit in Winnipeg with him for two months in the snow. We did that once, I don't want to do it again. (laughs)
On their rumored remake of Rosemary's Baby and fan feedback overall
Q: Do you let [online feedback] affect a project you're doing, like "Rosemary's Baby"?
BF: No, and it doesn't come from a level of arrogance; it comes from whoever's criticizing "Rosemary's Baby" hasn't read Scott Kosar's – we're calling it "Rosemary's Baby," but we're not doing that movie. But they haven't read Scott Kosar's script, which is now called "The Sacrifice." They haven't read that script, so when they can criticize something they know nothing about, that doesn't resonate with me. It's where they go after us personally and say that we just do it for the money and all of the things that they've been repeatedly been saying, which only bothers me because if I really wanted to make money, I'd be making much bigger-budgeted movies at this point. With our track record, we could go out and make bigger movies where there's a better return for our company. We make horror movies primarily because we love them. That's what our company does, and that's the choice that we made. You guys talk to a ton of producers who started in horror and then go and become big guys; our aspirations, although we do want to branch out, the branching out is simply because we feel like the stories we've told are starting to feel a little bit repetitive. I mean, I'll be in locations and I'll say to Drew, "Didn't we do this exact shot?" Do you know what I'm saying? You hunger for something new. But when they say that we're just doing this for the money, that drives me insane. And now that I've said that to you, you're going to print that and they're going to write me more. (laughs)
Q: You obviously are paying attention to what people are saying. How much do you let that dictate how you approach the next thing? Do you just shrug it off, or do you make an enemies list?
BF: You know what? It's interesting that you say that because – I'm going to forget your question, so let me answer it two ways. Here's a place where we listened to the fans and it made a difference in the movie. This might be boring for some of you, but we did not have Mama Voorhees in "Friday the 13th" when we tested it, because we felt it wasn't shot the way it needed to be shot, and we didn't know how to fit it into the movie. And then when we tested the movie, the outcry online that she wasn't in the movie was so loud that it forced us to re-look at what we were doing, and it forced us to put that scene in the beginning where we could finally get her in the movie, and I think the movie was better for it. So, in that instance, we pay attention a lot.
It feels to me, and I don't want to sound like a victim here, because I'm not, it feels to me like a lot of the feedback that I get, because you guys know I have that blog and that people write in and I pay attention, I'll write to you and ask you questions and I talk to you sometimes, and it feels to me like there is a lot of negativity no matter what we're doing. When I put out that picture of Drew and I standing in front of the police car, which was the same thing we did for "Friday the 13th," I got 40 comments about how the police car is wrong. So on some level, the criticism can be helpful, as it was in "Friday the 13th" – it really was helpful. Haters are haters, and it is sometimes very difficult to get to the bottom of what they're really hating, so on this movie in particular, I've not been spending as much time reading every comment. I will glance and if I see something pervasive that continues to be said, I will pay attention to it.
On the failed release of serial killer thriller Horsemen
BF: "Horsemen" was the first film that we bought as a company, we bought it nine years ago. At the time, I don't think any of us knew what our company was going to be, and for me personally, it was an important story to tell because I'm a parent and I thought it was an allegory about paying attention to what your kids do, because if you don't, horrible things can happen. We tried to get it off the ground, couldn't get it off the ground, we made "Chainsaw," still couldn't get it off the ground, we made "Amityville," still couldn't get it off the ground. Then Ted Field, who was our partner on those first two movies, called me one day and said, "Listen, I got this movie financed. Dennis Quaid is doing it, Jonas Akarlund is going to do it, and I need someone to produce the movie for me," and I said that we would love to do it. We weren't working at the time, we didn't have anything going...
The movie is a miss for a lot of reasons. One reason it's a miss is because Jonas, who directed it, is such a good director, but the genre itself is not in his blood. He's more of a dramatic storyteller, and I think that for that movie to work, it needed to be scary. It felt like it was grisly, but not necessarily scary. You make a movie about hanging people up on fish hooks, that's pretty hardcore stuff, and horror kinda went away. It went in a different direction, and I think at the end of the day, the movie isn't compelling the way some of our other films are. It feels slow...
The release was dictated by the fact that, I don't think it was a very commercial film. Interestingly, and I don't think I'm trying to spin this, I don't think it was never conceived as a commercial film. It was conceived as an art horror film, and Jonas Akarlund was the perfect person to do that. So it was a disappointment to us, but luckily this year, we had a fantastic year, and that certainly took away a lot of the sting that otherwise would've been there for that movie, because we are proud of that film.
On remakes dominating original horror at the box office
BF: At the end of the day - and I'm sure you love "Drag Me To Hell" - sometimes our taste is not in sync with the public, and I don't think it's something that's specific to original or non-original horror. I think part of it is a release date, and part of it is something that conceptually a lot of kids can get behind, and you know what I mean when I say a lot of kids. We don't do remakes because we're not doing original stuff. We are presented with opportunities or pursue opportunities and thus far, what has come in front of us is what we're doing. We're not avoiding...
Like, we have a script with Scott Kosar, which I hope we're going to do at Paramount, which is an original script, which is unlike anything ever. It was originally our "Rosemary's Baby" movie, which obviously we're not doing that. But it came from a meeting with Scott there and that's an original thing, but we don't look at it in the same way that you do, that it's original horror versus remake, do you know what I mean? I think that the audience judges each one on its own merit, and at the end of the day... my sixteen-year-old son didn't think that "Drag Me To Hell" was that scary. But he doesn't have the knowledge that we all have. It's hard to evaluate that movie as its own movie without knowledge of the work that Sam Raimi has done before and see where he has come. In a vacuum, kids aren't responding to that movie, but I mean, that movie is 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics love that movie. I think that critically, it's a huge success, and financially, it's just not the same level of success.
Q: Do you feel that, between the '70s and the '80s and the '90s, horror films were still developing a vocabulary, were still creating a sort of language... Do you think it's a product of 'this is what we know' versus the lack of inventiveness?
BF: I don't think it just goes back to the '70s and '80s. I think it goes back to 1913 with "The Mummy," or "Dracula," or... Those characters, their first birth was in the '80s, but horror itself has been reinventing itself from the beginning of time, so what we're doing, although people see it as sacrilegious, it's what the movie business has been from the beginning. I think that a lot of people that take runs at us don't know their film history and aren't aware that that's what's been going on since the beginning of time. There have been forty or fifty werewolf movies, and they keep coming out and no one says anything. No one can tell me who made the first werewolf movie, and I just feel that the horror that Platinum Dunes is doing, this is our era right now, and hopefully my son's generation will be making their own versions of Freddy and Jason, and those characters will continue. And there will be new characters, which is what "Saw" did. ...it's a cyclical thing that, whether we're around or not, will continue.
On other upcoming projects
Q: I've had two people tell me that "Butcherhouse" is a great script. Where are you guys on that?
BF: It is. We're close. ...that's an original script. It's out of a play. But it's an original. That feels more in the wheelhouse of "Friday the 13th" – fun horror, kids running around, not too much torture or pulling people's nails or teeth out...
AF: Great villain.
BF: Yeah, great villain. So that one feels pretty good. As you guys know, we don't make these movies and then send people to our sets and have them make it for us, so our limitation is the amount of time Drew and I can actually spend on set. So it feels like this year is spoken for, fortunately. Hopefully that's a 2010 movie for us.