Friday, August 17, 2007

Superbad -- The College Years?

With its super-good opening weekend ($31.2 mil), Superbad is on track for late-summer box office success. Which begs the question: will producer Judd Apatow and screenwriting duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg succumb to temptation and studio pressure, and spawn a sequel?

What say the Superbad stars, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher "McLovin" Mintz-Plasse? Sequel talk from an interview a few weeks ago:

MICHAEL CERA: So far, there's just been discussion among our friends.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE: Evan [Goldberg] said if you want to make a sequel, he said he’d combine Superbad and the upcoming movie he's working on, The Pineapple Express [a potheads-and-cops action comedy].

JONAH HILL: I think there’s nothing serious going on. I also think it’s weird to talk about making a sequel to a movie that hasn’t come out yet, or done well. That’s like the worse thing you can do.

MC: Sequels, generally, you push your luck, it’s like you overstay your welcome.

JH: It's so, so rare that a sequel is better than the original.

CMP: 28 Weeks Later... --it’s unbelievable.

JH: I’m the only person who thinks that Back to the Future 2 is better than Back to the Future 1. Everyone makes fun of me for it.

MC: Why do you think the second one is better?

JH: It’s the future.

MC: Because he's got the hoverboard?

JH: The almanac, the sports almanac, man, come on! And Godfather 2 they say is better than Godfather 1.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Rocket Science" Casting Crisis

Jeffrey Blitz had found his star: After watching hundreds of audition tapes and testing dozens of teenage actors, Blitz -- the Oscar-nominated director of the spelling bee doc Spellbound -- had landed the leading kid for Rocket Science, his fiction feature debut. Carter Jenkins, a California-based teen thespian, nailed the role of Hal Hefner, a New Jersey highschooler with a serious stutter, who tries out for the debate team.

And then, two weeks to go before Rocket Science was ready to rock, NBC -- which had contractual say over what Jenkins could or could not do -- said nah.

"They didn’t want to let him spend his hiatus working on the movie, they thought it was too risky," says Blitz, who had collared Jenkins just after the young actor had shot the pilot for Fathom (aka Surface), the network's deep-sea sci-fi series. "We flew him from Los Angeles out to Baltimore, we were about to turn our schedule upside down and start to shoot, without enough prep time in order to get this kid because I thought he was amazing, and then NBC said `No.' They said it while he was in the air, so when he landed we essentially said you can spend the night, we’ll go out to dinner, but then we’re going to put you back on a plane and send you back home because NBC won’t let you do this.

"So then the movie nearly fell apart.... The whole crew is hired, so it’s very expensive, and [producers] HBO said we’ll give you another two weeks to find a kid, we’ll float you for two weeks, and if you find him and we agree, then you can make the movie, and if you find him but we don’t agree, or you don’t find him, then the movie goes into turnaround. So it was really sheer luck that we found Reece Thompson. We had looked for months already, six months looking for the kid, and I had found one kid out of the hundreds that we had auditioned, and now we were told that we had two weeks and that’s that."

So how did he find Thompson (who, by the way, is great in this great absurdist coming-of-ager)? "His agent had sent in a tape, unsolicited… and somebody from production was ready to throw all those tapes out, unwatched, because no one ever looks at unsolicited tapes. But it was because we were so desperate that I said, `Wait a minute, I’m going to spend my afternoon looking at these tapes,' and Reece was in that batch. Otherwise, I don’t think the movie ever would have been made -- at all."

Rocket Science opens at the Ritz Five and Showcase at the Ritz Center/NY on August 17.