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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Talking with the Filmmakers of Hop!

Renee as a Pink Beret!
(this photo has absolutely nothing to do with the filmmakers but it is too cute not to post!) 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that HOP was the number one movie in the box office this weekend. And with good reason. Under the collective talent of filmmakers Chris Meledandri - founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment(of Despicable Me)  and director, Tim Hill (Muppets from Space, Garfield, Alvin and the Chipmonks) this movie was pretty much guaranteed to be a hit!

When on the media junket in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to interview these two great guys and wanted to share a bit of the interview with you here.  In my opinion the story in HOP is so imaginative and one of my blogging collegues asked about the story:

Blogger:  Where did the idea to create a live action, animated Easter movie come from?
Mr. Chris Meledandri:  The original notion was to reveal a side of our Easter mythology that nobody’s ever seen before. Once we started thinking about that, it opened up all sorts of possibilities.This idea of doing it through the perspective of the Easter Bunny’s somewhat rebellious, subversive son felt like a great way to go.

The other idea that emerged very early on is this notion of, what is it like to make the transition from adolescence, delayed adolescence into adulthood?
It’s a struggle and it’s pervasive. I actually think it extends way beyond our country and our culture, so that those dueling stories of two characters from two different worlds, both wrestling in their own ways with trying to transition into adulthood, one more delayed than the other. Ironically, they both become catalysts.

The story isn’t Easter-specific.  It felt like a great character direction in which to play a story against these secrets about a mythology that we’re all familiar with.

As I mentioned in my review of the movie, I think the combination of storyline, music, and actors makes HOP a film that appeals to all ages. One thing that was striking in the movie was that some of the images used in the Easter Bunny story parallel the Santa story, director Tim Hill addressed this:

Mr. Tim Hill:  ...we did take a page out of the Christmas movie. When you think about Christmas movies, Santa has his North Pole.  He has his mode of transportation and then there have been hundreds of movies about that space that he works in and what he does on Christmas and how important it is to the world......We decided that if you talked to the Easter Bunny, he would say that he was there before Santa.  That tradition was before the Christmas tradition, only because the Easter Bunny is actually a Pagan tradition.

I love this! For me the Easter Bunny tradition is completely separate from my religious beliefs regarding Easter and it means a great deal to me that the filmmakers actually acknowledge the pagan roots of the Easter Bunny.

And I of course asked about the appeal for all audiences:

Me:  When you came up with the concept, were you looking to go across all age groups? Was that the original concept or did that evolve?
Mr. Chris Meledandri:  It was definitely the original concept. One of the reasons why Tim and I work so well together is that we both share a fundamental point of view about making movies, which is that neither of us make movies with the idea of, “Well, what’s a kid going to like?”

We make movies from the perspective of what we like and it just so happens that what we like has the opportunity to play across broad audiences. The story themes that we’re talking about are things that are certainly going to be more relevant to parents or people who have recently gone through an
understanding of what it’s like to transition to adulthood.

The choice of Russell Brand, who is an actor that has these wonderfully subversive qualities, but what Tim and Russell discovered, he’s irresistibly charming. It’s our hope that the elements that are in this movie are elements that will speak to audiences of all ages and transcend the notion that all of us remember the magic of Easter from our childhood.


But, we’re also all kind of grown up children, too.

As a parent, most of the films I attend now have to appeal to my child but I love that in HOP the filmmakers kept in mind that we are all children at heart and it has to appeal to both the child and adult in all of us.


Disclosure: As a participant in the media junket, my travel, accommodations and meals were taken care of by Universal but as usual all opinions are 100% my own.


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