Comic-Con Q&A With Edgar Wright: How Working Title Partner Eric Fellner’s Health Scare Put ‘The World’s End’ Before Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’
Edgar Wright came to San Diego with cohorts Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to show the Comic-Con crowd The World’s End, the final installment of a trilogy of films that began with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. The trio greeted a raucous crowd that had spent about 12 hours or more camped outside the theater to get an early glimpse at the Working Title-produced comedy that Focus Features bows August 23. Wright took a few minutes to talk with Deadline.
DEADLINE: You had the Hall H crowd at the Marvel panel frothing last year when you took the stage and showed cutting-edge footage of Ant-Man, which Marvel hopes will launch a new superhero franchise. The crowd loved seeing the protagonist going from microscopic to full size. But you pushed that movie and came to San Diego with The World’s End. How did that happen?
WRIGHT: I had a chance to do Ant-Man in 2011. Simon was busy with three franchises, if you count Tin-Tin along with Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. We had the story down and it was in the back of my mind that if we didn’t do this film soon it might never happen, and we owed it to the fans. But then something else happened. [Working Title partner] Eric Fellner was diagnosed with cancer. When I found out about that, I’d literally just finished another screenplay for him and it was on delivery that he told me. He has given me permission to tell this story. That changed everything. Eric was our knight in shining armor on Shaun Of The Dead. That film was in turnaround, developed by Film 4 and they’d gone bust. Lots of other British companies had passed on it. Working Title, ironically the biggest British company, came in and saved the day. He wanted us to do another film together; we’d even done the deal for it. When I found out he was ill, one of many emotions I felt was, if we didn’t make this film, and something terrible happened, I would never forgive myself on not making good on my promise to do it. I wanted Eric to see this movie.
DEADLINE: What did you do?
WRIGHT: Me and Simon began writing it the very next week; in fact, we wrote it in Eric’s office in Beverly Hills. He was having chemo and said, please take my office, do it there. We wanted to make the film anyway, but it became a very personal thing. The happy news is, we’ve made it, he loves it and he’s got a clean bill of health. He came out of that ordeal and went straight into a tough period where he made Les Miserables and our film. It informed the movie script. The film is about regrets and these guys saying, I’ve got to do this thing. That sentiment became personal. To Marvel’s credit, when I went to see them to tell them to their face I wanted to do Ant-Man but that I wasn’t doing it next, Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito said they understood. We’ll see you in a couple years, they said.
Ross Lincoln contributes to Deadline’s Comic-Con coverage.
The final Hall H panel of Comic Con 2013 was a somber affair, as the creator, director and primary cast of the long-running FX drama Sons of Anarchy gathered to talk about the brutal fifth season, and their mood going into the show’s penultimate sixth season. Moderated by Deadline’s Mike Fleming, the panelists were mum on any details about the new season. But the mood clearly was bittersweet as each of them revealed powerful feelings about the direction the show appears to be headed. When asked why he’s already planning the end to his hit series — Season 5 saw the highest ratings in its network’s history — showrunner Kurt Sutter was clear that he wants to go out on his own terms.” My goal is to be able to tell the story I wanted to,” he said. “I never wanted us to overstay our welcome.” He also hinted at how the series might end. “At a certain point, the shit just has to hit the fan,” he said. “And for it to stay real and believable, it has to find its endgame.” That endgame, according to Sutter, will be “a pool of blood.”
Related: Hot TV Teaser: ‘Sons Of Anarchy’
Stuntmen don’t get to save the day in the movies, but these guys sure made the most of their time in the spotlight. Three pros from Stunts 911 who were in town for Comic-Con rushed into action …
Although Community creator Dan Harmon offered up few reveals about the cult comedy show’s fifth season at its Hall H Comic-Con panel today, he used the platform to champion the fans to demand a sixth season and a movie with the Twitter campaign #SIXSEASONSANDAMOVIE. “I created a machine that eats pain and craps joy. The people in this room gave us five seasons. It’s about legacy and six seasons and a movie,” exclaimed Harmon to the throng of screaming fans. “Nobody wants to not fail more than me,” Harmon told moderator Chris Hardwick, “I don’t consider these the last 13. I will do everything I can to get us the sixth season.”
Still undetermined is when Community will air on NBC next spring. As far as new storylines, Harmon — who didn’t brainstorm any during his time off — only said, “We need to re-establish these characters. I don’t want to plan too hard. We’re taking a different approach in the writers room, and we’ll be done shooting by Christmas.” Harmon also mentioned that he wouldn’t undo the story arcs laid out in Season 4 in an effort to maintain the show’s “organic spirit” and apologized again to fans for his snarky podcast remarks slamming Community’s recent run.
After DC’s announcement earlier Saturday that the sequel to Man Of Steel would be a Superman/Batman team up, the pressure was on for rival superhero factory Marvel to top the bombshell during its Hall H Comic-Con panel …
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s Comic-Con coverage.
There was an electric vibe in the air during today’s jam-packed Comic-Con session promoting the sixth and final season of Breaking Bad, the iconic AMC drama that returns for its final eight episodes on Aug. 11. First came the announcement that Chris Hardwick — the omnipresent Con moderator and host of AMC’s The Walking Dead post-show Talking Dead — will front the new Breaking Bad post-show called Talking Bad. (AMC announced the post-show at the upfronts in May.) The half-hour live after-show will follow every new Breaking Bad episode. Michael Davies’ Embassy Row produces Talking Bad in association with Sony Pictures TV. Creator Vince Gilligan was joined by castmates Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, RJ Mitte, and Dean Norris for the panel.
Back when Darren Aronofsky stepped away from The Wolverine to direct Russell Crowe in the Biblical epic Noah, the emergence of James Mangold was something of a surprise. He’s an accomplished filmmaker, but his sweet spot is grounded characters with earthbound dilemmas in films from Walk The Line to Girl, Interrupted, Copland and 3:10 To Yuma. Just before he and Hugh Jackman unveiled a killer highlight reel as part of Fox’s Hall H panel, I sat down with Mangold to see why he related to Marvel Comics’ perennially pissed-off protagonist.
DEADLINE: You’ve directed actors like Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Angelina Jolie and Sylvester Stallone to career performances, but with the possible exception of Knight & Day, your movies have always been very grounded in character and reality. What made you take the leap into the fantastical genre of superheroes?
JAMES MANGOLD: Several things appealed to me. The studio and the star were ready to do something different. This didn’t have to serve other films, we were operating off some perception of disappointment for the first film. To follow an act that tripped in some way gave us a lot of freedom. As for my own sensibility as a filmmaker, the opportunity I sensed was a chance to make a movie more like the comic books I’ve read and less like what I call comic book event movies. I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a kid, and they weren’t always about the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Every week, it was not about how a city, a continent or a universe will be destroyed if X doesn’t happen. That is unsustainable for the comic book writers. I think what is missing from a lot of comic book films reliant on peak battles is the angst, the character work, the things that as young people we related to. It was not infantile, but incredibly mature themes about life, death, betrayal, revenge, friendship, loyalty, parents, genetics, who we are and accepting ourselves for who we are. Those are themes in the comic books but the movies dabble in that but become about defeating a villain who’s intent on destroying the X that will occur unless Y happens to stop them. I was really interested in the idea of making a superhero film that purposely avoided putting the audience at risk. It seems all too often that comic book movies convey situations to the audience that, if the superhero doesn’t succeed, we’re all dead. I was trying to make a film that operated as a real drama, a real thriller, noir, Western or a real samurai film. Where you become invested in the heroes of the film worried about their interests, their needs, their safety, and not yours.
The news was announced at the CW superhero drama’s Comic-Con panel today, when the network showed a sneak peek (see below) of Season 2, which premieres October 9.
SAN DIEGO and BURBANK, Calif. (July 20, 2013) — Oliver Queen (series star Stephen Amell) will have his work cut out for him when he returns to Starling City on October 9 for the second season of The CW’s #1 series Arrow (Wednesdays 8/7c). At today’s Comic-Con panel session in Ballroom 20, fans learned of two new DC Comics characters coming to Starling City — Bronze Tiger and Sebastian Blood. Executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg revealed that Michael Jai White (Spawn, The Dark Knight, Mortal Kombat) will guest star as Bronze Tiger, while Kevin Alejandro (Southland, True Blood, Golden Boy) will appear as Sebastian Blood in upcoming episodes of the acclaimed action drama’s second season (airdates to be announced).
Anthony D’Alessandro contributes to Deadline’s Comic-Con coverage.
True Blood showrunner Brian Buckner wouldn’t tell a soul at the show’s Comic-Con Saturday panel how Season 6 will end next month, but HBO did release a teaser for the second half of the season. There are glimpses of Sookie Stackhouse …