By now there's a good chance that you have probably heard about Monster Trucks. Nickelodeon and Paramount's long-delayed live-action/animation hybrid has become infamous over the course of the last few years, and it will finally debut this weekend for the world to see. I recently had the opportunity to chat with director Chris Wedge about the making of the movie, and he explained that he had to make some notable cuts to the beginning of the film so that it would not scare test audiences. Wedge elaborated:
In my experience the beginning of a movie is important. It gives you a little bit of tone for what you're in for, it gives you all of the spices or ingredients. When I showed the first cut, I think some kids were too scared. We had a little slogan in the cutting room: 'Too Scawy.' There were oil men flying through the air and tentacles whipping around, and people weren't sure that they were in the right theater.
A filmmaker walks a fine line when he or she makes a monster movie that caters to the whole family. On the one hand, they must endeavor to make sure that the creature looks exotic, otherworldly and weird. On the other hand, a filmmaker also needs to make sure that the horror aspects of a particular monster's initial scenes are not overwhelming for the younger member of the audience. As Chris Wedge explains, the opening scene of Monster Trucks' first cut initially set the horror bar a little bit too high, and it proved jarring for test audiences. Wedge and his team went back to the editing room and used the phrase "too scawy" as their mantra for whether or not a sequence would work for kids.
That's a major step in the process. After all, can you imagine how scary E.T. would've been if the titular alien wasn't cute? That premise would scare adults.
Of course, that was an issue for the opening scene of the movie, but it wasn't an issue that plagued every frame of Monster Trucks. Chris Wedge went on to liken the tone and feel of the film to a child playing with toys, meaning the project was basically always designed to cater to family audiences. Wedge told me:
But that was just a little bit of editorial because the main point of the movie was to make this truck into a character and to have fun watching it move around kind of like kids imagine their toys moving around when they're playing with their little trucks and cars on the kitchen table or on the arms of the sofa.
So while the beginning may have been somewhat problematic at times, the overall movie didn't necessarily share that issue. Make sure to stay tuned for more updates related to the upcoming release of Monster Trucks. The film will debut in theaters this weekend on January 13.
Do yourself a favor and check out the trailer for Monster Trucks on the next page for an even closer look at the upcoming family-friendly monster adventure!