The Cornetto Trilogy Golden Mile, Day 12: Simon Pegg And Nick Frost Reveal What They'd Do With A $100 Million Budget
Well, and there’s also a way that knowing people that well, you can kind of get stuck in a rut together, and you can see people who have worked together over and over again and basically keep making the same movie over and over again, and you guys haven’t done that. I wonder if you’ve ever kind of looked and worried that you were on the brink of repeating yourself, kind of like the guys in this movie, like sticking by your friends to the point that you shouldn’t be anymore and how you get over that and do make original work that fulfills you guys even though you’re very different people than you were when Spaced started.
Pegg: I’d be worried if we did go and make the same thing again, because it would mean we kind of didn’t care, let’s go and do that again, because that worked. I don’t think we’re wired that way. In The World’s End we wanted to create something specifically that was almost kind of a combination of what was in the first two films, so that it drew them together so we could actually say, “Yes, it’s a trilogy.” It was important to us that we make a film that drew to a close and together some of the themes and ideas that we’d explored in the first two films. So, the enemy in The World’s End, which is almost a combination of the NWA [of Hot Fuzz] and the zombies [of Shaun of the Dead], which is kind of like a homogenizing force discipline and a specific way of doing things. Those two things come together and they create what we have in The World’s End, which is the network. We couldn’t possibly make the same film. We wanted to make something that was at once different, but at the same time, had the right level of familiarity that it felt like part of the same piece.
Frost: I think we’d rather not make something than repeat ourselves. I think people start to repeat themselves when they have a big hit. If you have a big hit, it does $300 million at the box office, then you do another one and it kind of does the same, you kind of get complacent. You’ve got a shit load of money and you’ve probably said, “Oh, well that works, let’s do that again,” and I think that’s where you can kind of run into a problem, if you lose your ambition through great success.
To look at the brighter angle of this, I watched the conversation you guys had with Peter Jackson in New Zealand, and kind of thinking about how he has his sort of island of filmmaking, where he has the entire New Zealand filmmaking industry and he can make these gigantic movies. Say The World’s End makes 300 million dollars. Would you take that empire? Would you do, you know, go spend 10 years making movies in the same world and have all the money in the world to do it, or do you guys worry that that would wear you out. Is that part of why you have made these three very different movies?
Pegg: Yeah, I guess so. We want to keep it interesting as well, and as much as, as a huge challenge as it is, it’s always good to work with a finite amount of resources, because it forces you to be creative. It makes me extremely sad sometimes to look at these huge follies sometimes, that Hollywood puts out, where they throw bad money after bad money because they’re trying to save something that’s going to fail ultimately. And they end up spending 500 million on something which nobody goes to see, because in the outset they’ve just give as much money as they want. Whereas, we couldn’t go over 30 million dollars with this, that was our budget and that was all we had and if we’d gone a penny over, we would have incurred certain tax things, which would have screwed us. So, we were forced to make the film with the money we were given to make it with.
If you’re just given any old freedom to just spend, spend, spend, you’re just going to. You know, directors are crazy people. They’ll spend it, you know. I think, Edgar included. Edgar, you know, would have been hugely glad of another 10 million dollars for this film, just because it would have given us more time, made it less stressful, but the fact is, we were having to solve problems inventively and creatively and it only added to the process of making the film. It shouldn’t be easy. Art, if I can call it that, shouldn’t be easy.
Have you guys ever talked about what your 100 million dollar movie would look like?
Frost: It’d be us and a bunch of strippers.
Really expensive strippers!
Frost: Yeah, well they cost a lot these days. No, I don’t know. If we were given that much money to make a film, I still think we’d end up struggling, because we’d just increase our ambitions even higher. So, we’d end up trying to pull it in for that.
You’d set it on the moon, and it’d be over.
Pegg: It’s never changed for us. Spaced was like 150k an episode or something, and that was difficult. Shaun was 6 million dollars and that was difficult. Hot Fuzz, 17, again, difficult. And World’s End, similarly, we always take what we’ve got and try and go bigger that it, so we’re always fighting our resources.
Frost: Also, I think, you know, I think we’ve proved that you could make, you know, you can see where all our budget went. It’s on the screen. So, I think if we were given 100 million dollars to shoot a movie, we’d probably spend 60 on it, then split the other 40 between us.
Pegg: Well, because of the way residuals work in the UK, we’ve never really seen any money from any of our films. So, I think, if we were given 100 million dollars to make a film, we’d just run away, take the money, and say, “Fuck you. You owe us this.”
It’d be like the end of Fast Five, where they all retreat to their own private islands. Frost: Yeah, exactly, we’d make Fast Seven. In a big house, chiseled out of a single diamond.
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