We recently had the opportunity to speak with TRON: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski about what it's like to be on the cusp of the opening weekend for his first feature film. Kosinski is in the unusual position of making his feature debut with not only one of the most anticipated movies of the last several years - but also (potentially) one of the most expensive.
Of course, according to recent projections, widespread audience awareness of the film does not seem to be quite what we, in the world of online movie news, might have assumed it was, and getting an exact read on the budget for TRON: Legacy has been a bit of a slippery affair.
Over the last several years there have been budget reports for the film with estimates as high as $300 million; however, Steven Lisberger (the original Tron creator/director and a producer on TRON: Legacy) has denied that the film cost "anywhere near Avatar money."
Whatever the exact numbers turn out to be, the team behind TRON: Legacy is definitely feeling the pressure. A virtual army of workers are at the ready, waiting to see how TRON performs this weekend - hoping that the film will do well enough to justify a third instillation in the Tron franchise, and the plethora of merchandise that's already in the pipeline.
Kosinski has already given a lot to the project: his cinematic vision (he was formerly an architect), tech savvy, understanding of video game culture (he directed video game commercials - prior to TRON: Legacy), and of course, three years of his life. Now, the only thing left for him to do is to sit back, let go, and wait.
On The Pressure For The Film To Succeed:
Screen Rant: I'm guessing you are pretty much all talked out right now (we were scheduled with Kosinski at the close of a day full of interviews). But were gonna force you to talk just a little bit more.
Joseph Kosinski: Bring it on.
SR: I'm bringing it! Tell me what it's like to have TRON: Legacy be your first feature film?
JK: It's been an incredible experience, I feel very lucky to have gotten the chance. It's been a long process, but, it's been an incredible experience.
SR: Well from out here, it looks like there must be a lot of pressure for this movie to perform. This is one of the most ambitious projects that Disney has undertaken, does it feel like a lot of pressure from the inside?
JK: Certainly there's pressure while your making the movie. You know you want to...I'm glad you used the word "ambitious," because that's what we strove to be in all aspects of this film - there is a lot to live up to in terms of the first film. How ambitious it was, conceptually, and visually, and technically. So, I definitely felt pressure in making the film. As to where we stand now; my work on the movie is over, and now it's just about spreading the word. But in terms of my job, the pressure has certainly eased a little bit.
Disney has been working very hard at getting the word out over the past few weeks. Soft opening weekend box office predictions (about $35 million) seem to have the studio reaching into, what might have before been, territories they would never agree to enter. There is even a TRON: Legacy themed spread in Playboy.
SR: You must be paying at least some attention to the critical response and the box office expectations?
JK: Well it's hard not to because, ideally, you want the film to be critically successful - you certainly want the film to be financially successful so that you can...well, because that's how movies like this are made, you know, they need to make money. But as a director, you can only make the movie that you want to make. You can't take those things into consideration while making the movie, because then you'll start running around in circles trying to please different masters. So, I think that while you're making the film it's important to just keep your eye on the ball and make the best movie you can, and then realize that it's out of your control.
On Jeff Bridges And The Collaboration On TRON: Legacy:
SR: From everything we've heard, this feels like it was a very collaborative effort as the film evolved, even more so than many films. Jeff Bridges wanted to bring in elements of Buddhism, and his work with Buddhist monk Bernie Glassman; Michael Sheen seemed to have a great deal of influence on the look and mannerisms of his character, Castor. How collaborative was it?
JK: Well any film is a collaborative process, and in a movie like this, this big, you've got thousands and thousands of people working on it, so my idea on it was that the best ideas should win. It's important to listen to those around you, and ultimately you have to decide which path you're going to go down. You know, you've got an actor like Jeff Bridges with something like seventy movies under his belt and your certainly going to listen to his thoughts about the character. You know, I thought he brought a lot to the character of Kevin Flynn. There is a lot of Jeff's ideas in Flynn's character, and even some of Flynn's lines are Jeff's lines.
SR: Like which ones?
JK: "Chaos, good news."
SR: What about "your messing with my zen thing man?"
JK: I've got to give credit to Michael Arndt for that one.