Earlier this year saw an interesting battle going on behind the scenes in Hollywood, as Marvel Studios worked to find a filmmaker to take the helm of their upcoming Spider-Man movie. The company wound up selecting Cop Car director Jon Watts for the gig, but considered a number of names before him – including The Night Before director Jonathan Levine. When this was reported, we were very excited about the prospect of the filmmaker taking on the blockbuster – though it turns out that talks didn’t actually progress that far.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jonathan Levine to talk about his hilarious new Christmas comedy, and it was towards the end of our conversation that I asked him about the talks that he has had with Marvel Studios. In addition to Spider-Man, he was also one of the directors they talked to for Doctor Strange (a job that eventually went to Scott Derrickson). So what has been the nature of their relationship to this point? Levine explained:
I’ve gone in to talk to them about probably three things now - Spider-Man being the one that I thought was the best fit for me. I think I had a pretty cool take, but it didn’t get as far as it looked like it got. They were like, ‘We want to do John Hughes tone in New York.’ I was like, ‘Oh, cool. Just fucking give it to me.” But then, I think, ultimately the more we spoke, the more I think we both kind of hesitated and I think their guy is a really, really good choice. He’s actually someone I know. But I would love to do a movie with them at some point.
Noting that each of Levine’s films have been very different and distinct in terms of approach and tone, I followed up by asking if making a big blockbuster was something that he was specifically interested in taking on (none of his movies have had a budget bigger than $50 million). Levine then told me that was actually something that wound up making him somewhat “trigger shy” when it came to fully diving into a Marvel Studios project. Acknowledging them as “the authors of their movies,” he noted that he feels a certain comfortability working with 50/50 and The Night Before collaborators Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen that he wouldn’t necessarily have on the set of a much larger production. Said the Warm Bodies filmmaker,
I love working with these guys because I always feel safe and protected, and I think for me, just my personality, like that’s probably a good thing. I can see myself making a great blockbuster, but I can also see myself making a fucking horrible one, so I would have to go into it eyes wide open.
Rather than going the blockbuster route, instead Jonathan Levine is working on another comedy as his next project. Back in August it was reported that he was in talks to direct Amy Schumer in a new mother/daughter story from The Heat screenwriter Katie Dippold, and at the end of my interview the filmmaker told me that it’s what he thinks he will do as his Night Before follow-up. That project doesn’t currently have a production start or release date.
While we wait for Jonathan Levine’s collaboration with Amy Schumer, and hopefully a future collaboration with Marvel Studios, I highly recommend that you go see The Night Before, in theaters this Friday, November 20th.