Martha & Dino De Laurentiis Interview Producer of Hannibal Rising


Time to kick off some more interviews for all my favorite horror friends. Thats right, thats you, and you and you and you...... We had a chance to sit down with Dino and Martha to talk about their newest project Hannibal Rising. They have been involved with all of the Hannibal Lector films and as a very cool side note were also the team that produced Army of Darkness one of the greatest movies ever made! Long live Bruce! Now onto the interview. :)

HorrorMovies: So what came first:  you wanting to make another movie or Thomas (Harris) wanting to write another book?

Dino: First I do a picture for the audience, only for the audience, this is my job – as a filmmaker, as a producer and a promoter, I picture only the audience. When I did the promotion of Hannibal all around the world, everybody asked me, ‘Dino, now is the time for us to see where Hannibal Lecter was born. When did he start to be a cannibal? When did he start to be such a killer?’ It is a question that’s come to me hundred of times and at some point, I say, ‘Maybe they’re right.’

Maybe it’s time to explain where Hannibal Lecter was born, what happened to him, and why he became a monster. And it wasn’t easy to convince Thomas Harris to do it because he didn’t want to come back to the Hannibal Lecter character. And then I started to work with a different writer but nothing special because the father of Hannibal Lecter was Thomas Harris. Finally, I convinced him to do it.

And we did and what is this picture about? You can call it a prequel, a sequel, or whatever you want, but for me, forget The Silence of the Lambs, forget Hannibal, forget Red Dragon. This is a picture that stands on its own. If we ever do another picture (??), this picture is about the creation of a monster. It’s about the monster becoming a hero. It’s about a monster who belongs to the war because maybe if it were not for the war, Hannibal Lecter would have never become a monster. Maybe he would have become a great doctor. But the war created not only a Hannibal Lecter monster, it created so many monsters around the world.

And my intention is to make a movie, not only to explain to the audience the story of Hannibal Lecter, but especially to deliver emotion to the audience. Because every movie that does, if you don’t deliver emotions to the audience, then you don’t have a movie. If it’s a comedy or drama, you deliver emotion. If you deliver emotion, you’ll have them in your hand. This is the reason we did Hannibal Lecter to answer your question.

HorrorMovies: Peter Webber said he was both flattered and very surprised that you took him on as the director with his previous film just being The Girl with the Pearl Earring. What did you see in him that made you think he would be able to take on this project?

Dino: Well, listen to me. If you know my background…let’s start when the Academy gave me the Irving Thalberg Award. I gave a speech to the studio [executives] that were in the audience. I said, ‘Gentlemen, don’t be scared to use younger people. Don’t be scared to use younger writers. Don’t be scared to use younger directors. Because they are the future of the industry. The industry needs new blood.’ This is what I said at that moment. Now, if you see my background and interests, I don’t want to come back to Fellini and Antonioni, but now, the last few years. Jonathan Mostow. I created Jonathan Mostow. He’s a major director today. I created the Wachowski brothers who are major directors today. And so on.

When I have a script in my hand with Hannibel Lecter, I say I don’t want to use a major director because maybe a major director will have a psychological problems doing another Hannibal movie and then I will lose [means waste] my time going around to check on the director. Let’s go in my style. Let’s find a new, great, young director. And I saw the picture you just mentioned, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and I was impressed. I asked how much did this picture cost. $11 million. He did this fantastic job. Let’s call him and bring him to Los Angeles.

Let’s meet with him. I see his face. A producer must have some sensation, some nose, some sensibility to judge people. When I see the face of Peter Webber, I like him already because I cannot make a picture with a director that I don’t want to go to dinner with together. But I like a director that I can go to dinner with together. Then I put Peter Webber across from my room at the office to read this 20-page outline from Thomas Harris to see what he has to say. I said, ‘Peter, give me your reaction. What do you like?’ And he says, ‘Dino, it’s fantastic.’ He detailed for me ways to make the movie that were completely in sync with me. I said, ‘This is the guy. Let’s make a deal. Let’s proceed.’

HorrorMovies: Originally you passed on Silence of the Lambs, right?

Dino: Yes, I can tell you why because I did Manhunter which had 92% fantastic reviews but I lost many, many millions of dollars. It was a big flop. Then ??? came up.??  We have a similar script/book in development but after the flop, it didn’t make any sense to buy. They’re right, they’re wrong, they’re not even reading the book and we pass.

But when we pass, Orion bought the book. Orion has no right to use the Hannibel Lecter character because we own this ???  Then Jonathan Demme called me. Then Thomas Harris called me and then I gave authorization to Orion for Jonathan Demme to use the Hannibal Lecter character once. It was good for me because Silence of the Lambs became a success and soon I was able to make another movie.

HorrorMovies: Given that there is no major star like Anthony Hopkins in this one, what are your expectations for the success of Hannibal Rising?

Dino: You know a studio in Los Angeles loved the script and they wanted to make a deal and they say at dinner, ‘Is there any way we can make Anthony up?’ “Oh yeah, sure, it’s easy to make Anthony up who’s 65 years so he looks like he’s a 19-year-old boy. C’mon!’ It doesn’t make any sense to have Anthony Hopkins in this movie. This is a movie that works on its own. How much money will it do? The tracking looks very good. It’s what I can say to you now and we open February 9th. Knock on wood, we’ll have a good opening. The cinema, don’t forget, is always mystery. So no question about it. In the summer time, you see this picture opens with millions of dollars. Flop! Another picture??? comes for the price of making a movie.

The last word is in the audience. If the audience is going to buy, listen to me very carefully, not the movie but Gaspard Ulliel as Hannibel Lecter, we are meeting our end.??? But the secret was the boy and there’s a lot ??? to that. He’s a boy with mystery in his eyes. ??? In the preview we did in New Jersey, everybody said ‘this looks like Anthony Hopkins when he was young.’ Yet the question we put to the audience is:  Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon, Hannibal Rising, which do you prefer? 76% said Hannibal Rising. Why? Because finally the audience understood the story of Hannibal Lecter because this is what they wanted to see.

HorrorMovies: The last couple years there have been films that have come out with slightly different release strategies. For example, they come out on DVD or on line at the same time that they’re in the cinema. Have you seen some of the trends in cinema over the years? What’s your thought on that particular development in terms of how films are being released?

Dino: I completely disagree because reversing the time with cinema and the DVD you do for a small movie. If you do it for a picture that costs five, six, seven million dollars, why are you going to do it for a movie that costs $75 million? If you take a movie that has $75 million xxx in aggregate on a small weekend because maybe you do nothing, maybe you do $100 million or maybe you do like Hannibal - $160 million domestic and $350 million worldwide and then it will go DVD. It’s no good to do DVD’s simultaneously.

Martha: Escalating from 6 months to 3 months makes sense but I don’t agree about day and date.

HorrorMovies:Another filmmaker you worked with was Sam Raimi on The Evil Dead films.

Dino: Sam Raimi? I love Sam Raimi.

HorrorMovies: What do you think of his idea to remake the original Evil Dead?

Martha: Ummmm, yes!

Dino: If he has the right idea, why not?

Martha: Yes, he’s a genius.

Dino: If he has the right idea… Sam Raimi..when I pushed Sam Raimi to ?? with everybody, they thought I was crazy because I was in love with younger people. I said, ‘I can be in love but not with younger people. I can be in love with talented people.’ If Sam Raimi is a fantastic talent, and he proved how talented he is, if he has an idea to remake a movie, let him do the movie.

Martha: He’ll have a lot more money to make it work this time.

HorrorMovies: Is it you idea or Peter’s idea to cast Gong Li?

Dino: It was mine. I am in love with Gong Li.

Martha: We are in love with Gong Li. Absolutely.

Dino: How beautiful!  And the problem with English, we take care of that with relooping. But the quality of Gong Li – not because she’s beautiful – because even with no dialogue with this expression and this face, she takes the audience. What is the answer? She’s unique.

HorrorMovies: Do you think certain people are inherently compelled to do evil?

Martha: Directors or people as human beings? (laughs)

HorrorMovies: I mean real people. Just anybody but not people making movies.

Dino: If I understand your question, Hannibal Lecter was not born to be evil. If you remember when he was a boy, he cares about Misha. This is the action of a young boy for the love of his sister. There’s nothing evil about what he did at the beginning. But the pressure of the war, when he starts to defend his sister, they broke his arm. He falls down in the snow and the police say, ‘his heart died at this moment.’ And the moment that the young Hannibal fell down in the snow and cries with his arm broken, something changed in the boy and the animal started to come out. This is the reality. This is what we believe we are showing in the movie.

HorrorMovies: Is he redeemable?  Is there a point in the movie where he can be brought back to being a normal person or is he lost all the way through the movie?

Dino: No, from when he has broken his arm and he sees his sister eaten by these sons of bitches and he falls down in the snow and is saved by Russians, at that point the animal takes over and the boy is lost.

Martha: But to address your point, we have the face off with Kolnas (Kevin McKidd) where he was going to let him live for the sake of his children and that’s what Lady Murasaki told him but by the fact that he laid his gun there and said, ‘I’m going to leave,’ but Kolnas went to kill him, poom! [meaning Lecter kills Kolnas]

Dino: He’s a stranger to save ?? but the picture covers everything you ask me. Because if you see the picture once, you’ll be attracted by the ??? of the movie.  But if you see it the second time, you’re going to discover some small things here and there and they are going to give you the answers to all your questions.

Thanks to Martha & Dino De Laurentiis for taking time to play Q&A with us. Look for Hannibal Rising in theatres this week! For those who live under a rock the 3minute extended trailer is below for your viewing pleasure.

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