Whenever you see a beloved classic getting reinvented for the big screen, you hear that the people involved were huge fans of the original. Studio execs at a Comic-Con panel today said they make sure that fans are part of the creative process on a big project—but not for the reason you might think.
This morning at Comic-Con, there was a panel called “Studio Production Chiefs Speak,” featuring three executives who’ve developed big movies for Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and Fox. They talked a fair bit about the development process, including getting things greenlit, and the difficulty of figuring out if a risky creative choice has paid off with audiences or not.
But the most interesting part came during an exchange about wanting to have people working on a movie adaptation who were fans of the source material. Jim Miller from Lionsgate, who’s working on the Hunger Games and Power Rangers films, said, “Loyalty to the source material is the most important thing. There’s a reason these things are popular, and to diverge from what made them popular [in the first place] would be a huge mistake.” At the same time, he pointed out that Power Rangers has been around since the early 1990s, and “you have to bring it up to date... But largely, you have to stick to what fans loved.”
But Warner Bros. senior vice president Drew Crevello, who’s working on the upcoming Akira and Dungeons & Dragons movies, somewhat disagreed, saying:
“You need at least one, if not two, people in the process to be true passionate fans—not because that ensures reverence, [but because] those are the ones who are best positioned to know, ‘Okay, this is a different medium and you have to diverge [from the source material], and have the courage to do that. [When I worked on] X-Men: First Class and Deadpoool [at Fox], and now with Akira and Stephen King’s The Stand, you have to have reverence for the material—but also, the courage to make the bold creative choices that you just know the fans will come along with you for.”
And yes, that last quote might be cause for a bit more nervousness about the already worrying Akira movie. And yet, the notion that the real fans of an original are the ones best positioned to take creative liberties with it, without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, is a really good point. And it flies in the face of our assumption the die-hard fans will be the ones fighting any changes.