Chris Columbus is directing a film adaptation of Rick Riordan's first Percy Jackson & the Olympians novel, The Lightning Thief, a 21st-century take on Greek mythology. But Columbus said that he isn't worried that Warner Brothers is making its own Greek-inspired movie, a remake of Clash of the Titans.
"No, because we're first," Columbus said in an exclusive interview Saturday in Santa Monica, Calif., where he was promoting I Love You, Beth Cooper.
Titans, starring Sam Worthington, hits theaters in March of 2010, but 20th Century Fox locked in a February 2010 release date for Columbus' film. Was it a calculated decision? "Oh, yeah," Columbus said.
In Columbus' movie, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a boarding school kid sent to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods. From there he has adventures with gods and creatures of Greek myth in the present day. This is not a spoof, mind you: Columbus takes his gods very seriously.
"Percy Jackson's a very serious movie," Columbus said. "It's comedic, but it's only comedic in a way that an Indiana Jones movie can be comedic. So I think in terms of comparing it to something like Clash of the Titans, it is more of an Indiana Jones-meets-Greek-mythology [movie], as opposed to a pure period-piece Greek myth, Clash of the Titans."
Columbus has taken some liberties with the source material: Maybe not every sequence from the book is in the movie, but maybe he came up with some better ideas. "Just some of the creatures have been changed," Columbus said. "We have sort of a breathtaking hydra sequence that replaces a sequence that used to take place at the
Seattle [St. Louis] Arch. Our version of Hades is a little different. There are other changes here and there. Camp Half-Blood is a lot more dangerous, a lot more serious than it was in the book."
Columbus has also cast Uma Thurman as Medusa. On the set, Thurman wore a blue skullcap painted with dots for computer-graphics artists to add her hair of snakes in post-production. Otherwise, this Medusa is as hot as Uma Thurman.
"Well, Medusa has to be extremely seductive so she can get people to open their eyes and look into her eyes," Columbus said. "So she is a combination of one of the most frightening creatures I've ever seen on screen yet with a very seductive voice."
Fox plans to release Percy Jackson & The Olympians in theaters on Feb. 12, 2010.