Joel Silver may scream at his employees and rule his movie sets with an iron fist, but he’s always pretty cool to the press. When we get to sit with him, he says he’s just talking about movies with other people who love movies. Comic-Con was the perfect place for a guy like that, with action and horror movies that this crowd eats up.
His latest Dark Castle horror movie is The Reaping, coming out November 8. Hilary Swank plays a miracle debunker who investigates a case in Louisiana, only to find there may be something supernatural going on after all. For the producer of 13 Ghosts, Ghost Ship and House of Wax, this was a slight change of pace.
“The intention was to either create new material or remake old material,” Silver said. “We still were in development of I Saw What You Did, an old dark William Castle movie, and Macabre. I mean House of Wax wasn’t a William Castle movie but it was an old movie that we kind of re-envisioned but I mean we always intended to do both movies that were kind of remakes or reimagining and new products. So it makes perfect sense.”
But how much sense does coming out a week after Halloween make? “It’s a good date for the movie. It’s a really good date. It’s a Wednesday so it worked out really good for us. When we started doing the Dark Castle movies, the first one was ’98, there was a rule of thumb that you couldn’t put movies out at Halloween. There really was. All the kids that are going to go the movies are out trick-or-treating. So we put a movie out on Halloween that did very well. So now that Halloween is full of horror movies. But there’s a bunch of films around us. We’ll be ok. I think we’ll be ok. I think there’s Grudge 2 and Saw III and there’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 0.l. But it’s ok, I think we have a different kind of movie. It’s a supernatural thriller, it’s Hilary Swank. I think that we have a good shot.”
The Reaping is Silver’s second horror movie with an Oscar winner. Gothika with Halle Berry was his horror company’s biggest hit. “I hope it will continue. I mean, she’s great in the movie. She’s great to work with. It was a kind of grueling shoot to go through. But she’s great, and I think she’s good in the movie. I mean I think it’s a good movie so I think it will work for us. People want to see her, I hope.”
Silver brought production of The Reaping on location to Louisiana, and changed the script to accommodate it. “That was economically advantageous because the state is very movie-friendly, far more so than our lovely state here in California. And it made financial sense to shoot there. And so as we were shooting there, we decided to set the movie there. It made more sense. I think in the original script it was, well originally it was Connecticut or something but it was better in the Bible-belt type setting and it worked much better where we did it. But I think it worked great down there. It was rough, but I think it worked great down there.”
Working through last year’s Katrina disaster, the Reaping crew was able to help the community in a real way. “I mean, it was horrifying. Most of our crew that was local were from New Orleans and they lost everything. But we had housing and food and ice and electricity and everybody was able to come up with us and their families and live with us. Everybody didn’t want us to leave. They wanted us to stay and finish the movie. So there were jobs and kind of an infrastructure that could function. We did what we could. We had to give up our radios and our generators to FEMA. We were part of the relief effort, but we got through it, we survived.”
On his upcoming slate, Silver has some more hot projects he could only tease, including a return behind the camera by the Wachowski Brothers. “There’s something coming. I love them, they are incredibly talented guys. They are so focused, I mean they’re great guys and they’re funny and I love being with them but they are so focused and when they commit to something they commit to it. And we’re close to committing to something that I think would be fantastic for them to do. And if they do it, which we’re close to, then it will be great. Everybody will know about it, it will be great. I can’t give you anything, but I promise you when I can, it will be there. If they pull this off, it’s again going to do things you’ve never seen things before and in a way that you can’t imagine. But they’re studying all that now, and if they can do what they want, it will be great.”
He’s also got Joss Whedon hard at work on Wonder Woman. “Joss is close. His last draft was close and he’s doing another pass now. It’s got to be good. I hope next year we’ll be talking about the movie. I mean, it will be real. And I just hope that the studio wants to make it. They want to make it, but it’s got to be a good script. We green-lit it before, but I was never happy where we were. We’ve got to get the right material. It’s an origin story, so she’s young. I mean she’s a young girl so I don’t know if you’ll ever have heard of her before or not. Look, it’s a process of development but I mean I’ve been through this for many years but I didn’t want to make it until it was a really good script, and I think we’re getting there.”
Silver also hopes to get Bryan Singer to finally make Logan’s Run, but he fully expects his director to be attached to more Superman films. “He’s going to do another Superman. He’s definitely going to do that. Look, I wanted to do Logan’s Run. We’ve been talking about it for years. The studio has in the past said let’s just move on and I just don’t want to move on until I’m sure Bryan won’t do it and he keeps saying he wants to do it. Sure, there are people who want to do it now but so much of this was his idea, I’d like to follow through with him but if he can’t do it or won’t do it, then I’ll move on but I’m not there yet.”
We’ll be seeing a lot more of Joel Silver in the next year.