Producers on why The Birds remake isn't working, other nightmares

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Brad Fuller, producer of the forthcoming Nightmare on Elm Street remake, told reporters that the future of his planned remake of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds is still up in the air. Fuller and his producing partner Andrew Form also updated us on the horror slate for their production company, Platinum Dunes, including The Sacrifice.

"We keep trying, but I don't know," Fuller said in a group interview last Thursday in Chicago. "I mean, that's so hard and to get the script right. We continue, and we struggle, and I just don't have a ton to say about it until we've got something good."

Fuller and Form spoke to reporters about their upcoming projects during a visit to the set of Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Samuel Bayer and starring Jackie Earle Haley. The following is an edited version of that group interview.

What's the central challenge with The Birds? Is it just the Hitchcock always being in the background?

Fuller: That's huge. And the limitations that birds [present]. What do they do? They peck and poke.

Form: And poop.

Fuller: Right, so there's not a lot of variety as to what can happen.

Form: You start with the sh--ting, and you build up to pecking, and then they poke.

Fuller: Yeah. So it's hard. It's a much harder movie to do. As you guys know, we lay ourselves out there and get annihilated out there online all day long, and that movie just opens us up to a whole different level of annihilation.

Then why pursue it?

Fuller: You know what? In terms of why pursue it, as a producer you pursue a bunch of things, and the ones that come to fruition, you make, and the other ones you try, and it's a good effort. At this point, we're going to make this [Nightmare], and we're going to make the next Friday the 13th, I hope, and then we'll see where we are with scripts and material, but it doesn't feel like that's up next for us.

You guys have been talking about developing more originals, and it's sort of interesting looking at Drag Me To Hell, about as good an original horror movie as you're going to see in theaters. The fans didn't really turn out for that. Do you sort of look at that and at the state of how original horror does and say to yourselves, "Maybe it is better to do remakes"?

Fuller: Sometimes our taste is not in sync with the public, and I don't think it's something that's specific to original or non-original horror. I think part of it is a release date, and part of it is something that conceptually a lot of kids can get behind, and you know what I mean when I say a lot of kids. We don't do remakes because we're not doing original stuff; we are presented with opportunities or pursue opportunities, and thus far, what has come in front of us is what we're doing.

Like we have a script with Scott Kosar [The Sacrifice, about which SCI FI Wire reported earlier], which I hope we're going to do at Paramount, which is an original script, which is unlike anything ever. It was originally our Rosemary's Baby movie, which obviously we're not doing that. But it came from a meeting with Scott there, and that's an original thing, but we don't look at it in the same way that you do—that it's original horror versus a remake.

I think that the audience judges each one on its own merit, and at the end of the day, my 16-year old son didn't think that Drag Me To Hell was that scary. But he doesn't have the knowledge that we all have. It's hard to evaluate that movie as its own movie without knowledge of the work that Sam Raimi has done before and see where he has come. In a vacuum, kids aren't responding to that movie, but, I mean, that movie is 94 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics love that movie. I think that critically it's a huge success, and financially it's just not the same level of success.

I've had two people tell me that [The] Butcherhouse [Chronicles] is a great script. Where are you guys on that?

Fuller: It is. We're close. That's an original script. It's out of a play. But it's an original. That feels more in the wheelhouse of Friday the 13th: fun, horror, kids running around, not too much torture or pulling people's nails or teeth out.

Form: Great villain.

Fuller: Yeah, great villain. So that one feels pretty good. As you guys know, we don't make these movies and then send people to our sets and have them make it for us, so our limitation is the amount of time Drew and I can actually spend on set. So it feels like this year is spoken for, fortunately. Hopefully that's a 2010 movie for us.

You obviously are paying attention to what people are saying. How much do you let that dictate how you approach the next thing? Do you just shrug it off, or do you make an enemies list?

Fuller: You know what? It's interesting that you say that, because—I'm going to forget your question, so let me answer it two ways. Here's a place where we listened to the fans, and it made a difference in the movie. This might be boring for some of you, but we did not have Mama Voorhees in Friday the 13th when we tested it, because we felt it wasn't shot the way it needed to be shot, and we didn't know how to fit it into the movie.

And then when we tested the movie, the outcry online that she wasn't in the movie was so loud that it forced us to re-look at what we were doing, and it forced us to put that scene in the beginning where we could finally get her in the movie, and I think the movie was better for it. So in that instance, we pay attention a lot.

It feels to me—and I don't want to sound like a victim here, because I'm not—it feels to me like a lot of the feedback that I get, because you guys know I have that blog and that people write in and I pay attention; I'll write to you and ask you questions and I talk to you sometimes, and it feels to me like there is a lot of negativity no matter what we're doing. When I put out that picture of Drew and I standing in front of the police car, which was the same thing we did for Friday the 13th, I got 40 comments about how the police car is wrong. So on some level, the criticism can be helpful, as it was in Friday the 13th—it really was helpful. Haters are haters, and it is sometimes very difficult to get to the bottom of what they're really hating, so on this movie in particular, I've not been spending as much time reading every comment. I will glance, and if I see something pervasive that continues to be said, I will pay attention to it.

Do you let it affect a project you're doing, like Rosemary's Baby?

Fuller: No, and it doesn't come from a level of arrogance, it comes from whoever's criticizing Rosemary's Baby hasn't read Scott Kosar's [script]—we're calling it Rosemary's Baby, but we're not doing that movie. But they haven't read Scott Kosar's script, which is now called The Sacrifice. They haven't read that script, so when they can criticize something they know nothing about, that doesn't resonate with me.

It's where they go after us personally and say that we just do it for the money and all of the things that they've been repeatedly been saying. Which only bothers me, because if I really wanted to make money, I'd be making much bigger-budgeted movies at this point. With our track record, we could go out and make bigger movies where there's a better return for our company. We make horror movies primarily because we love them. That's what our company does, and that's the choice that we made.

You guys talk to a ton of producers who started in horror and then go and become big guys; our aspirations, although we do want to branch out, the branching out is simply because we feel like the stories we've told are starting to feel a little bit repetitive. I mean, I'll be in locations, and I'll say to Drew, "Didn't we do this exact shot?" Do you know what I'm saying? You hunger for something new. But when they say that we're just doing this for the money, that drives me insane. And now that I've said that to you, you're going to print that, and they're going to write me more [laughs]. It will get worse and worse and worse.