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While their upcoming films may not have had panels at the 2023 San Diego Comic-Con, Gareth Edwards and Justin Simien, who respectively have a sci-fi thriller Creator and Disney Haunted house slated to hit theaters in the coming weeks, they’ve managed to get their projects into the spotlight, despite ongoing actor and writer strikes.
The filmmakers, who were part of a panel of directors on directing hosted by the film’s website Colliderthey were in Hall H at Disney’s expense, as they’ve repeated time and time again, and trying to be on their best behavior when moderator Steven Weintraub asked a couple of tricky questions about the studio’s marketing and notes.
The duo handled it well enough, though the real wild card on the panel was Louis Leterrier, the Fast X director who was a last minute replacement for David Leitch.
When Weintraub asked about projects that fell apart during the development process, Simien replied, “Disney is paying for me to be here, so I can’t.” The director is known for working on a Lando Calrissian Star Wars series that was eventually put back on the shelf.
Edwards responded by talking about the different types of encounters he’s been in, and Simien elaborated on his experiences, without naming names.
“You have a lot of great initial meetings and the people they meet with are genuinely enthusiastic, and then their bosses come in,” she said. “And they’re not so sure or they were in a shareholder meeting or whatever it is above our pay grade. And somewhere in between, it changes. The attitude then becomes, in her words, “The same thing we hired you to do, let’s not do it.”
Leterrier then wowed both by revealing details about a dream project of his that never got off the ground: Yellowstone Falls, the story of a mother wolf and her three cubs who make their way through Yellowstone while being chased by zombies, who in this scenario have run out of humans to eat and have turned to eating animals. “It’s my magnum opus,” she said.
Leterrier also detailed how he once spent eight months working with James Cameron on a remake of Fantastic trip, meticulously drafting the shot and even developing new cameras for the enterprise. “He was killed in the room,” he said.
(He also hilariously recounted how Cameron was not in the field and tried unsuccessfully to reach him. “Were you ghosted by him?” Simien asked. “No, no,” Leterrier defended. “He had a good excuse. He was in the Mariana Trench.”
The panel was an entertaining and informative outing, with filmmakers explaining the different relationships with cinematographers, creating original films in an age dominated by branded IPs and the use of artificial intelligence.
Simien noted that he had very specific requests for Mansionon which he worked with Jeffrey Waldron.
“When you see black people in movies, especially if I’m the only black person in the movie, sometimes you can barely see them. They need to be lit differently,” she said. “And I can’t tell you how to do it exactly, but I just know that I want to see Lakeith Stanfield’s face when she’s next to Owen Wilson. And that’s actually quite a technical feat.
On the matter of remakes, Simien said he was desperate to make a version of The magicianto the applause and cheers of the audience.
“This is the very first movie I’ve ever seen, so when I saw the original Wizard of Oz, I didn’t realize they made a white version of the Wiz. I just didn’t get it,” she added.
His desire to remake the film became a running joke during the panel, much to his chagrin.
Edwards, who is behind the original film Creator and got his breakthrough in 2010 by making a low-budget indie titled Monstershe talked amusingly about how he got tricked into making his big studio movies.
“When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I was like, ‘I’m not going to do this. I’ll just make my own films and invent the next one. There’s no way, you can’t get me to do that,” she recalled. “And then what happened was, ‘Do you want to do Godzilla?’ Fuck you. Of course you say yes… And after that, it was, ‘Here, I’m not going to do another one. This is the end.’ Then he came, ‘You want to do Star Wars?’”
It was and is hard to say no to this kind of opening.
But Edwards also noted that his film is one of the studio’s few original offerings this year, a stark and awful contrast to years past, when the top 10 films of each year would all be originals.
“It’s simple math. They put movies in theaters and when a lot of people go to see them, they make more of those movies,” he explained. “When people don’t do that, they make different movies.
Leterrier is already a Creator fans and the director were so out of his seat with excitement that when an extended clip of the film was shown, he ran into the crowd at Hall H and sat down with the audience to get a good vantage point to see it on the huge screens.