Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Ridley Scott Says 'Exodus' Would Never Get Financed Starring "Mohammad So-and-So From Such-And-Such” Ridley Scott Says 'Exodus' Would Never Get Financed Starring "Mohammad So-and-So From Such-And-Such” James Cameron Says 'Avatar' Sequels Will Make You "Sh*t Yourself With Your Mouth Wide Open” James Cameron Says 'Avatar' Sequels Will Make You "Sh*t Yourself With Your Mouth Wide Open” Welcome Back To The Park: The First Trailer For 'Jurassic World' Is Here Welcome Back To The Park: The First Trailer For 'Jurassic World' Is Here Watch: 2-Hour 'Deleted Magic' Explores Deleted Scenes & Alternate Footage From The Original 'Star Wars' Trilogy Watch: 2-Hour 'Deleted Magic' Explores Deleted Scenes & Alternate Footage From The Original 'Star Wars' Trilogy New Character And Plot Details Emerge For 'True Detective' Season 2 As More Cast Members Confirmed New Character And Plot Details Emerge For 'True Detective' Season 2 As More Cast Members Confirmed James Gunn Says Shared Universe Model Is "Flawed," Plus Listen To "Awesome Mixtape Volume Zero" For 'Guardians' James Gunn Says Shared Universe Model Is "Flawed," Plus Listen To "Awesome Mixtape Volume Zero" For 'Guardians' 'Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens' Trailer Hits Theaters This Friday 'Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens' Trailer Hits Theaters This Friday Christian Bale Admits He Was Initially "Jealous" When Ben Affleck Was Cast As Batman Christian Bale Admits He Was Initially "Jealous" When Ben Affleck Was Cast As Batman Watch: First Trailer For Thomas Vinterberg's 'Far From The Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Watch: First Trailer For Thomas Vinterberg's 'Far From The Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... SXSW Review: Spierig Brothers 'Predestination'  Starring Ethan Hawke SXSW Review: Spierig Brothers 'Predestination' Starring Ethan Hawke From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

'Hotel Transylvania' Director Genndy Tartakovsky On Making The Hit Movie, His Take On The 'Dark Crystal' Sequel & More

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist October 3, 2012 at 2:22PM

Over the weekend, the animated monster mash "Hotel Transylvania" scared away September box office records and established its director, Genndy Tartakovsky, previously known for his work on the small screen with series like "Dexter's Laboratory" and the highly influential "Samurai Jack," as a major force in feature animation. We talked to the director about how he was able to crack the notoriously difficult story, what happened with projects that involved everyone from J.J. Abrams to Jim Henson's company to George Lucas, and what his approach to a 3D feature animation-based "Popeye" will be.
0
Hotel Transylvania

Tartakovsky faced a number of hurdles with "Hotel Transylvania." For one, he had been working in traditional 2D animation and was switching over to 3D computer animation, which requires an entirely different set of skills. Tartakovsky had to transfer, in his mind, the 3D image "because everything looked so beautiful, I didn't know if it was right," into a 2D composition, at which point he was able to spot the strengths and weaknesses of any given frame. Later he would get better at the process and simply be able to address issues as they came out. But another hurdle was found in the transfer to 3D, a medium Tartakovsky still isn't completely sold on. "We were definitely making two movies at the same time. It's hard for me. I have a very strong opinion about 3D where it sometimes takes you out of the story," Tartakovsky said. "You don't care about what's happening because Dracula is standing right in front of you."

While "Hotel Transylvania" might be the director's first feature film, he has come close with some pretty huge collaborators. Tartakovsky directed a series of micro-shorts (between two and five-minutes each) that linked "Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones" with "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." The shorts were quite amazing -- a sentiment "Star Wars" mastermind George Lucas agreed with. As Tartakovsky explains, "After we did the 2D ones, I was actually going to be hired to be their quote unquote John Lasseter of LucasFilm Animation," Tartakovsky said. "I was going to do a feature and then I was going to supervise the 'Clone Wars' series, and I was really excited. We got as close as my wife started looking at houses in San Francisco. And then I had a lunch with George and he said he really didn't want to do features. At the time I really wanted to do features because I wanted to break free from TV, I was just kind of burned out. And I realized that the next 20 years of my career could be just 'Star Wars.' So I pulled out of the deal." 

Dark Crystal

Another project that came tantalizingly close to production was a sequel to Jim Henson's influential fantasy project "The Dark Crystal," to which Tartakovsky had a brilliant-sounding approach. "So basically for 'Dark Crystal,' my whole take was it was going to be a [Hayao] Miyazaki puppet movie. It was going to have that feel to it. It was going to be in the spirit of 'The Dark Crystal' but pushing it further and being more modern. We did visual designs, we did a script, we started testing things, and then we were always a couple of dollars short, and it just kind of fell apart," he shared.

At one point he was associated with a live-action version of his "Samurai Jack" television series, to be supervised by J.J. Abrams. When Abrams left to shoot the first "Star Trek," things went quiet. They seem to have remained that way. "No, that's off the table now," Tartakovsky said curtly.

What is coming up is a whole slew of projects for Sony Pictures Animation, the studio that made "Hotel Transylvania" and was even happier about the weekend numbers than he was. While he says he's not that company's John Lasseter equivalent ("I think I'm just a director"), he admits that he will be working on two parallel projects – the company's big screen revamp of "Popeye" and a project of his own design. "For me the only reason I agreed to do 'Popeye' was that we're going to do an animated physical comedy," Tartakovsky said, openly. "In 'Hotel Transylvania' we started to really scratch the surface a little bit but we had a lot of dialogue and a lot of jokes based on dialogue. With 'Popeye,' I really want it to be, like 80%, all physical humor. And they agreed to that. It's the perfect vehicle for 'Popeye.' I'm going to push, whatever I did in 'Hotel Transylvania,' ten fold for 'Popeye.'"

And of his original project, he said: "At the same time as we're doing 'Popeye,' I'm developing an original idea at the same time. So who knows? Maybe if we're having story problems with 'Popeye,' and maybe my movie is going smoothly, maybe my movie will go first." When we asked him what the new project was about, Tartakovsky said, "It's too early. You don't want to know." But with anything the filmmaker is attached to, we do want to know, and we'll be eagerly awaiting more details.

"Hotel Transylvania" is in theaters now.

This article is related to: Genndy Tartakovsky, Hotel Transylvania, Interviews, Popeye


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates