John Stevenson is the co-director of Kung Fu Panda. He recently spoke to ComingSoon.net about the upcoming film...
You've been in animation long enough to know that a lot of ideas end up being recycled whether it's the penguins of "Happy Feet" and "Surf's Up" or "Antz" and "A Bug's Life." "Kung Fu Panda" is a completely new and original idea and it's surprising that no one has thought of doing some kind of kung fu movie with talking animals before.
Who came up with that?
Stevenson: Yeah, it was a big high concept idea that had been at the studio that everybody had liked the idea and the sound of, but it hadn't found its voice when I started working on it. When Mark Osborne and our producer Melissa Culp came onto the film, it had been an idea in search of an execution.
I think the way it had started was more leaning towards parody and sort of a spoof and those kinds of choices, which we didn't think were very interesting. I don't really think parody stuff plays much longer than about a ten-minute "Saturday Night Live" sketch. It doesn't emotionally involve you, it doesn't hook you in, and the other thing was that we love martial arts movies.I wasn't interested in making fun of them, because I really think martial arts movies can be great films, they can be as good as any genre movie when they're done properly. They give you the ability to deal with these big sweeping emotions and action and this breadth of content if you embrace it and take it seriously.
Our choice was to not do the parody or the simplistic comedy. We said, "Let's take 'Kung Fu Panda' which is an idea everybody gets comedically, but then let's try and surprise everybody by giving them more movie than they might expect from the title. Let's try to make it a real martial arts movie albeit one with a comic character and let's take our action seriously. Let's not give anything up to the big summer movies.
Let's really make sure that our kung fu is as cool as any kung fu ever done, so that we can take our place in that canon and make sure it's a beautiful movie, because great martial arts movies are really beautiful-looking movies and then let's seen if we can imbue it with real heart and emotion.
We kind of hoped that maybe when people see the movie, they'll be surprised that they get a bit more movie than they may be expecting from the title.
Read the full interview now.