Is J.J. Abrams' 'Super 8' this summer's 'District 9'?
A Super Bowl commercial let the cat out of the bag (the monster out of the train?) for J.J. Abrams' "Super 8." But the big-game spot was only a small piece of the puzzle. The filmmaker behind the highly anticipated science fiction release opened up further to my colleague Geoff Boucher.
In an item posted on our sister blog, Hero Complex, the writer-director described the plot for "Super 8," for which an earlier teaser hinted at a monster escaping from a train in 1979: "[I]t’s an adventure about a small town and it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s scary and there’s a mystery: What is this thing that has escaped? What are the ramifications of its presence? And what is the effect on people?"
Abrams had been toying with a different film about a similar set of characters -- a widower father and his son -- but as he began putting it together he realized it made more sense to combine it with a separate idea he'd recently sold to Paramount, about Area 51 and a train of classified material that never made it to its destination.
Abrams did, however, want to keep the emotional elements that animate films such as "E.T." (Steven Spielberg is a producer on "Super 8"). "This is a movie about overcoming loss and finding your way again and finding your own voice,” Abrams said. “A boy who’s lost his mother and the man who’s lost his wife. There’s this father who, because of the era, never really had to be the parent."
The director does worry that the lack of an established brand could dim the summer pic's prospects. ”We have such a challenge on this movie,” Abrams said, adding that "we’ve got no famous superhero, we’ve got no preexisting franchise or sequel, it’s not starring anyone you’ve heard of before."
Of course a novel concept and a director name has managed to turn a science-fiction film into a hit each of the past two summers: the Peter Jackson-godfathered "District 9" and Christopher Nolan's "Inception." Abrams may not have much to worry about.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: J.J. Abrams. Credit: Tracey Nearmy / EPA
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