Joel Silver on Splice, Swamp Thing, Logan's Run, and More
05.24.10 by BJSprecher
Joel Silver was so impressed by director Vincenzo Natali's Splice that he did something he has not done before in his long career as a producer — he bought the finished movie through his Dark Castle production house affiliated with Warner Bros. At the recent press day for Splice, Silver discussed what intrigued him about Splice and updated the status of some of his other projects in development, including a planned 3-D reboot of Swamp Thing, a remake of the 1976 classic sci-fi movie Logan's Run, his new horror movie The Apparition, and more.
Silver said that Natali had to make Splice "off the grid" because mainstream studios "weren't supportive of it." However, after Silver saw Natali's festival circuit cut of the movie, he decided to try to bring "it back into the grid" because he felt that it conveyed his movie "message" and targeted the audience he wanted to go after.
I saw one of the stills of the movie in one of the trade papers and it intrigued me. I like the Frankenstein story and I'm a big fan of gothic horror, and I just thought it was an interesting idea and a new way to tell the story. I saw the log line, said that I would like to see the movie, they sent me the movie and I had no idea what I was going to see. I had not read the script. I just watched the movie.… I just felt it was so effective that people would want to see the movie. Warner Bros. doesn't even have an acquisition department anymore. They don't acquire anything. There are very few acquisition departments left in town. The smaller companies have them, but the bigger studios really don't. And, Dark Castle had the ability to do that, so I showed it to the studio and they said, "Let's go for it."
Silver said that only slight changes were made to the final cut of the movie after Dark Castle picked it up.
Vincenzo had just rushed to get it done for the festival circuit and he had stuff that he wanted to do, that he had more time to do. There was not an immediate schedule. There was a schedule and we had a date, but he was able to go through it and tweak some things, fix some visual effects, do a new dub and really do what he wanted to do, like work on the main title, and I was supportive in helping him do that.
One of Silver's projects that has had comic book fans excited is his planned 3-D reboot of the Swamp Thing franchise. Natali had even expressed interest in directing the movie, but recently broke the news that the remake wouldn't be happening because of an issue with the rights. Silver confirmed Natali's statement, but said that he hasn't given up hope of the movie happening someday.
We were developing a script. We actually developed a couple of drafts and were close, but then, all of a sudden, it became evident that the motion picture rights were not held by Warner Bros. Even though DC owned the underlying material, the movie that was made by Embassy with Adrienne Barbeau was owned by another company. It's complicated. So, we're trying to work it out.
Another one of Silver's highly anticipated projects is a remake of Logan's Run, about a futuristic society that controls the population by euthanizing citizens when they turn 30. Silver said that the movie is "going to happen" and that it has a better chance of happening now than ever before because of the current crop of marketable young actors in Hollywood.
We're writing a script now. What people don't understand is that movies are sometimes like fruit. They're perishable. They can go on the shelf and, if you don't eat them by a certain time, they're gone. But sometimes, they can come back. You can put them in a can and bring them out again. But, we got really close with that, a couple years ago.… The thing about it now is that there are really a lot of young people. Ten years ago, there weren't that many young movie stars who could star in a movie like that. But now, there are a lot of young actors who could do that. The idea of a youth-based society that you live in for a certain time and then you no longer live anymore is an interesting idea for a movie, but you need young people that people want to go see. And, there are people out there now that I think people would be intrigued with seeing, so it's a realistic thing again. So, we're trying to do it.
As far as Silver's upcoming productions go, he said that filming on director Jaume Collet-Serra's Unknown White Male recently wrapped, describing it as a "Hitchcockian thriller."
It's a really thrilling idea. It's a thrilling story. [Liam Neeson] plays a scientist doctor, who's on his way to a medical conference in Berlin. He arrives at the hotel and realizes that he left his briefcase at the airport. He goes back to the airport to get his briefcase, and there's a horrible car accident on the way. He wakes up, after a few days in a coma, and he doesn't have any ID and nobody knows where he's been. He goes back to see his wife and she doesn't know who he is and she's married to somebody else. It's a pretty strange story that goes in a really good direction. It's pretty fantastic. It's great. And, he plays that character so well. He's this guy who has to figure out what's happening and has to live on his wits. It's good. It's strong. January Jones plays the wife, and Diane Kruger plays this girl that helps him.
Silver is also in post-production on director Todd Lincoln's The Apparition starring Sebastian Stan and Ashley Greene, which he described as "a really scary haunted house movie."
It's like Poltergeist and Paranormal Activity. It's about a little house in a cul-de-sac in the Valley, where a lot of the houses didn't get finished because of the financial crisis. It's not built on a graveyard or anything. It's this really modern world and, into this world, comes a really, really scary story, and they are terrific with it.
Silver refused to talk about his mysterious new movie, Project X, and said that he is no longer working with his Matrix trilogy collaborators, the Wachowskis, because they're "off on their own path now."