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How much was 'Super 8' influenced by 1980s films? J.J. Abrams and the stars weigh in [Video]

June 12, 2011 | 12:47 pm

As audiences turn out to see "Super 8" this weekend, the movie has attracted not just younger audiences but adults nostalgic for the popular 1980s films the J.J. Abrams project evokes.

Indeed, such movies -- including producer Steven Spielberg's "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me" and Richard Donner's "The Goonies" -- were of such importance to Abrams that the studio had the young stars of "Super 8" watch them before production began on the film.

"Paramount had us watch those movies because so many of the references J.J. made were to those movies," explained one of the film's kid stars, 14-year-old Ryan Lee, at the movie's premiere in Westwood Wednesday evening.  "And after we would watch those movies, we’d be like, ‘Ohhh, that makes sense now.’"

As 15-year-old Joel Courtney, who has the largest role of any teen in the film, came to understand it:  "‘E.T.’ kind of brings a little bit of sci-fi to it. ‘Goonies’ brings that group of kids to it. And ‘Jaws’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ brings that terror to it."

But when asked what Abrams wanted his child stars to take away from the '80s movies, the filmmaker had a different point of view.

"I tried not to deal with the kids from the outside in and sort of tell them about other movies as much as sort of focus on who these characters were and what that story was," he explained. "They already came on, honestly, fans of movies like ‘The Goonies’ and ‘E.T.’ and ‘Stand By Me,’ so they were sort of pre-studied."

Nonetheless, most of the young actors in "Super 8" said they viewed the movie as an "homage" to Abrams' favorite childhood films.

"When [J.J.] was a kid growing up in 1979, he was inspired by those films, so they’re really dear to his heart. And having Steven a part of this project meant a lot to him," said Elle Fanning, 13. " 'Super 8' could be a new one of those for my generation, because there hasn’t been one in a while."

-- Amy Kaufman



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