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Where The Wild Things Are

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on: November 27, 2003, 09:31:27 PM
i think this was discussed briefly in the jonze/lee thread....i did a search and didn't find anything on it, so i figured it needed it's own thread.

if you don't know, Spike Jonze heard this film was in the works and lobbied to let him direct it.

this is so exciting for me. this was always a favorite of mine as a child. it's one of the few books i remember to this day, especially the drawings of the wild things.

recently i went to the library and read it. it's going to be interesting how they stretch it to 90 minutes. i'm guessing they're going to go in depth about Max's family before the fantasy sequence, and of course, expand that.

i believe if anyone can do something great with this, Spike can. hopefully he'll make it for kids, while still apealing to adults (the same way Wonka has the ability to crossover).

i hope he goes the costume route instead of a bunch of CGI. maybe that would work.

what do you think? i wonder if a script is already done.
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Reply #1 on: November 27, 2003, 09:37:22 PM
I have no more info on it then you do man but I'm definitely looking forward to it. Concerning the animals - I thought it might be cool if he went with stop motion rather than CGI or costumes...even though it might look like he's copying Wes Anderson, I think it would be cool. Stop motion is something I definitely want to see make a comeback.


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Reply #2 on: November 27, 2003, 10:11:11 PM
I too loved this book when I was little.  The artwork was amazing.  I even had a read-along LP.

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Reply #3 on: November 28, 2003, 02:13:40 PM
i never saw the animated version.......how long is it? is it basically the same as the book?

maybe he could use animatronics. Grimlins was on and i liked the look of it.....i'm guessing they probably used some stop motion for the parts where they were walking.........anything but CGI........that just takes me out of a story most of the time
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Reply #4 on: November 28, 2003, 02:57:30 PM
My fav book growing up.  I'm not sure how they will create the monsters.  CGI could work, if used well.  The only way I really see this film working is if it was done completely by Pixar, but we'll see.
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Reply #5 on: November 29, 2003, 11:15:42 AM
Quote from: SHAFTR
My fav book growing up.  I'm not sure how they will create the monsters.  CGI could work, if used well.  The only way I really see this film working is if it was done completely by Pixar, but we'll see.

i agree with you.

if i could afford royalties and stuff, i'd kill to make a harold and the purple crayon movie. it would be totally sidescrolling, like in sega genesis games.  no color other than the off-white background and a deep purple for outlines. badass classical music under it, too.
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Reply #6 on: November 29, 2003, 11:22:27 AM
In elementary school, we used to watch what was basically a taped play of "Where the Wild Things Are." I'm not sure if it was specifically made as a video or if there actually was a stage version of the story.

The monsters were basically guys in large suits with animatronic faces. Sort of like Barney suits. As I remember, they worked fine but they were basically carbon copies of what the creatures look like in the book, and lacked the realism that I imagine will be put into them in the movie.


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Reply #7 on: November 29, 2003, 03:40:39 PM
bet it sucked as much as schoolhouse rock live.
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Reply #8 on: November 29, 2003, 09:18:03 PM
I'm creaming myself thinking about a Where The Wild Things Are movie...by Spike Jonze no less.

Maybe if it was Lynch, I'd be more curious, byt Spike rocks anyway.
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Reply #9 on: November 29, 2003, 11:27:15 PM
Quote from: Reinhold Messner
Quote from: SHAFTR
The only way I really see this film working is if it was done completely by Pixar, but we'll see.

i agree with you.

Me too. I like Spike Jonze but yea, I would be looking forward to it more if it was Pixar that was behind it. That would just seem like it might fit a little better. I could be wrong though, Spike has a knack for surprising us, or me at least, I'll speak for myself.


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Reply #10 on: November 30, 2003, 04:07:15 AM
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Reply #11 on: October 22, 2005, 09:45:01 PM

ON May 25, 1963, a 34-year-old Maurice Sendak put together a small, handmade volume with which he had been struggling for eight years. Titled "Where the Wild Things Are," it used just 338 words and some occasionally disconcerting illustrations to tell the story of a boy named Max, who, sent to his room with no dinner, rebels by running away to a creature-infested island where he is named king of the beasts.

In "Where the Wild Things Are," Max, who is sent to bed without dinner, imagines traveling to a land where he becomes king of the beasts.
After a brief but exhausting adventure - "Let the wild rumpus start!" the book reads - Max returns to his bedroom, where he finds "his supper waiting for him."

That much-honored book about childhood anger stands on the brink of becoming a Hollywood movie - but only after a 15-year trip through the woods, and an occasional rumpus among the producers, directors, screenwriters and executives who have been struggling to make a picture with which even Mr. Sendak can be happy.

In the project's current incarnation, Spike Jonze, of "Being John Malkovich" fame, will direct, from a screenplay he has written with the novelist Dave Eggers. Mr. Sendak will serve as a producer along with John Carls, in concert with Tom Hanks's Playtone Productions, for Universal Pictures.

Pre-production is well under way. Animatronic "wild things" - six- and eight-foot-tall monsters that are operated from the inside by actors, and which will eventually be given computer-generated faces - have been tested for cinematic impact. So have exotic locations in New Zealand and Australia. Pending approval by Mr. Sendak and Universal executives of a screenplay draft due within a week or two, a 2006 start date is likely. A budget of "well under $100 million" has been roughly agreed upon, Mr. Carls said. (A Universal spokesman declined to comment, beyond saying the project was in development at the studio.)

"I don't know what to make of it, exactly, but I am so for it," said Mr. Sendak, 77, speaking by telephone from his home in Ridgefield, Conn. "I am in love with it. If Spike and Dave do not do this movie, now, I would just as soon not see any version of it ever get made."

To date, the film has done a very good job of not getting made, despite a march toward the screen that began in the early 1990's. Mr. Carls, then an executive at Orion Pictures, became interested when he read the book to his 3-year-old daughter. Using Orion's relationship with filmmakers like Jonathan Demme, Milos Forman and Woody Allen as bait, Mr. Carls contacted Mr. Sendak, and proposed that he consider a studio deal.

Before any deal could be made, however, Orion fell into financial difficulties. Several key Orion officers, among them Orion's president Mike Medavoy and his vice presidents, Marc Platt and Stacey Snider, landed at TriStar Pictures, recently purchased by Sony. Mr. Carls and Mr. Sendak created a production company, called Wild Things Productions, and set up shop at TriStar. They moved into offices on Sony's Culver City lot and began working toward turning Mr. Sendak's books into movies.

Writers and directors met with Mr. Sendak and his associates. But the author said recently that he had difficulty finding someone he could "clinch with and collaborate with."

"What most people wanted was a reproduction of the book, because the book made money," Mr. Sendak said of a work that has sold seven million copies, according to a representative for its publisher, HarperCollins. "I'm very fond of the book," he said, but "the film would be about seven minutes long."

Executives who were on the lot at the time said that Mr. Sendak was reluctant to turn his prize book into a Hollywood guinea pig. "Maurice was very protective of 'Wild Things,' " said one who asked not to be named, to avoid disruption of working relationships. "This was his first foray into the feature film world. He wanted to see how the process worked on something else."

Mr. Sendak did not deny he was protective, or that he insisted on staying involved. "I didn't want to turn it over to a director who would never see me again," he said. "What do you get for that? A packet of money for having sold your book."

He had then and has now, Mr. Sendak said, "a loathing of movies that are based on children's books, and a loathing for most children's books." In his words: "It's all vulgar. It's all Madonna." Asked about the film versions of Dr. Seuss's "Cat in the Hat" or "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" - both released by Universal, where Ms. Snider is now chairman - he said: "What is the purpose of this debauchery? Money! Only a seriously sick or brainless person could like them."

Even though "Wild Things" wasn't officially in development at TriStar, Mr. Sendak and Mr. Carls continued to attempt to make movies from other children's books. The project that came closest was another classic, Crockett Johnson's 1955 "Harold and the Purple Crayon," which tells the illustrated story of a boy so dismayed by the impending arrival of a younger brother that he uses a magic crayon to draw a universe where he can trap and ultimately defeat his enemy.

After meeting with many directorial candidates, and finding them wanting, Mr. Sendak met with a young video director named Spike Jonze - and fell in love.

"He was the strangest little bird I'd ever seen," Mr. Sendak said. "He had fluttered into the world of the studios and, could he not be swatted dead, I knew he would manage. I had total faith in him."

Michael Tolkin, whose screenplay for the 1992 Robert Altman film "The Player" had skewered studios very much like Sony's Columbia and TriStar, was brought on to write a script that would feature a technologically advanced combination of live action and animation. A budget of slightly under $50 million was set, and animation was begun.

Then the top management of Columbia and TriStar was ousted - and new managers had less faith in the material, and none at all in Mr. Jonze, a first-time director. Two months before principal photography was to have begun, Mr. Carls said, TriStar pulled the plug.

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"The budget kept changing, and the script kept changing, and they got nervous," Mr. Tolkin said. The problem, Mr. Tolkin said, was that Mr. Jonze "was a genius who hadn't yet made a feature."

By Mr. Carls's account, he and Mr. Sendak were "really upset" by Sony's behavior. "We walked away, leaving six projects behind," he said, among them "Harold and the Purple Crayon." So the two men turned their efforts to television. Over the next several years, they made several animated features and television series with the Canadian animation company Nelvana.

But Hollywood's interest in "Wild Things" was undiminished. Mr. Snider and Mr. Platt, the executives who had brought Mr. Sendak to TriStar, moved to Universal. Mr. Hanks's Playtone was now housed on that lot, and being run by Gary Goetzman, whom Mr. Carls knew from the Orion days. "Wild Things" suddenly had new life as a Universal property. Gore Verbinski, who had already made the Nathan Lane child comedy "Mousehunt," was hired to direct, and he brought in the screenwriter Eric Singer.

The plan was to take advantage of new computer technology and make "Wild Things" a live-action movie with enhanced effects. But Mr. Singer's script, Mr. Carls said, took too long to arrive and then "failed to satisfy the demands of the book." Then Mr. Verbinksi left the project to direct "The Mexican."

Mr. Carls and Mr. Sendak next turned to a more traditional approach, hiring an animation director (Eric Goldberg, a veteran who had worked on the Walt Disney Company's "Aladdin," "Hercules" and "Fantasia/2000" features ) and an animation writer (David Reynolds, of "Mulan," "A Bug's Life" and "Tarzan"). But Mr. Carls and Mr. Sendak disliked their version, which Mr. Carls said was "too Looney Tunes-ish" and "too much like an amusement park."

Further efforts included a fresh screenplay draft by Michael Goldenberg, who wrote the 2003 remake of "Peter Pan" and the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." By then, Mr. Carls had made peace with Sony and was busy doing pre-production on that studio's upcoming animated film "Open Season," a deer-bear buddy comedy. Mr. Sendak had turned his attention to other collaborations, most pointedly an American version of the Czech children's opera "Brundibar," in concert with the playwright Tony Kushner. To finance the opera, Mr. Sendak wrote a book version of the story, which was published in 2003.

Sometime in 2004, their optimism revived by the Goldenberg script, Mr. Carls and Mr. Sendak approached Mr. Jonze, who had recently overseen the successful release of his second feature, "Adaptation." The director's response "was immediate and passionate," Mr. Carls said. Mr. Jonze brought in Mr. Eggers - then hot off his autobiographical best seller "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." The two made a fresh start with a fresh take on the story. (Representatives for the director and screenwriter said their clients had no comment.)

The plot and details of the Jonze-Eggers script are a tightly guarded secret, but a great deal of Max's adventure now involves his journey home. In the book, readers learned that the island king's beastly subjects begged Max not to leave: "Oh please don't go - we'll eat you up - we love you so!" In the Jonze-Eggers script, Mr. Carls said, Max must make a daring escape with the "wild things" in hot pursuit. The pair have also brought to the material a fresh twist on Max's relationships with the "wild things," in particular one of them.

Mr. Sendak, who said his health prevented him from leaving Connecticut, said he was at work writing and illustrating a new children's book. "I can't say what it is because I don't know yet," he said. "I work very slowly, and I go by these little mysterious clues, like little lightning bugs in the night."

Despite revival of interest at Sony in "Harold and the Purple Crayon," which Mr. Carls said may go forward now as an entirely animated film, based in part on Mr. Tolkin's original, 12-year-old adaptation, Mr. Sendak said "Where the Wild Things Are" will surely be his last involvement in film.

"I don't think anyone ever wanted me for anything but 'Where the Wild Things Are' anyway," he said. But Mr. Jonze and Mr. Eggers have remained in close contact. "They call, they write, they send postcards, they show me script changes, they send me pornographic pictures and models of the monsters," Mr. Sendak said. "They're very attentive. They make me useful to them."


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Reply #12 on: October 22, 2005, 10:35:21 PM
that's a great article, man. it's kinda touching, in a way, this old man collaborating with hip young ppl over a children's book. clearly the book means a lot to all of them, there seems to be a huge amount of love going into it.. i think this has potential to be the greatest film of all time. maybe most loved.

there i said it.
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Reply #13 on: October 22, 2005, 11:33:06 PM
I'm just amazed we're not seeing a news item like this instead:

"Where The Wild Things Are", to be directed by Breck Eisner, from a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman.  Loosely based on the beloved Maurice Sendak book.

Seriously... Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers.  Awesome.  This will be amazing.  The "Wizard of Oz" of our time.
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Reply #14 on: January 09, 2006, 10:21:26 AM
Warner Bros. has snapped up "Where the Wild Things Are" out of turnaround from Universal reports Variety.

The film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic kid's book, which Spike Jonze will helm from a script he and novelist Dave Eggers penned, is expected to head into production late in the year. Legendary Pictures is expected to co-finance.

The live-action feature will likely require a sizable CGI budget, and details of the Jonze-Eggers version are being kept closely guarded. The current vision of the pic has the strong support of author Sendak who was very critical of Universal's early attempts to adapt his work.
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