Exclusive Interview: Garrick Dion on Fire and Ice, Dominion and More

Fire and Ice

During Screamfest, CraveOnline streamed an industry panel on The Art, Business and Future of Genre Film. I attended the panel in person and met the various panelists, including Garrick Dion, Senior Vice President of Development for Bold Films. The panel kept coming back to Gravity as a game changer as the industry would wait to see how its success would influence future development.

I got to speaking with Dion afterwards about whether Gravity could bring back the star powered high concept movie, of the Face/Off or Die Hard ilk. The lasting effects remain to be seen, but in a phone call after ScreamFest I talked to Dion about his company’s film slate, which includes Robert Rodriguez’s Fire and Ice remake, Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut and some intriguing films to star Jake Gyllenhaal and Owen Wilson respectively.

CraveOnline: How is Bold involved with Fire and Ice? I thought Robert Rodriguez owns everything he does at his studio?

Garrick Dion: We have a deal with Robert on a couple things, a smaller movie that’s yet to come to fruition called Blood written by Misha Green and we have Fire and Ice which we have funded the development for and are working with Robert to basically do as we do our films: in terms of selling foreign and holding the domestic open and looking for a domestic partner which will certainly have to happen because it’s going to be a bigger movie for us.

It’s definitely Robert’s film in the sense of how he is sort of a factory mind of having his own poster artists and conceptual artists and digital and special makeup effect artists in house at Troublemaker, but it was the dawning of him moving off of Troublemaker into Quickdraw which is his new company and probably making a bit bigger of a film certainly than the last couple he’s made. It’ll be more like Sin City and Sin City 2, a more expensive movie. But it was developed in conjunction with Robert.

It was Robert’s wish to do this movie and he, I believe, owns or is working in conjunction with the Frazetta family in terms of the artwork that this is inspired be. It’s very much a Robert movie but funded, developed in conjunction with an independent company, our company.

Are we going to hear some movement on Fire and Ice soon?

That is my hope. As far as I know, it’s the movie that Robert is interested in making next. It’s just at a stage in which we have a very solid draft and hopefully will be getting some cast on board in the next two to six months and hopefully shooting next year. I don’t want to count the chickens before they hatch but that’s the plan for it.

Is that a movie that will need some big stars, or could the title alone be enough?

I think it will. That’s sort of the discussion now is who and how big? I think it’s a bit of a fanboy title and I’m really excited about the idea of making a movie that hopefully will do for fantasy/sword and sorcery what Sin City did for graphic novel, that sort of black and white comic book graphic novel approach. But it will. It will need a couple of stars I think to launch it and hopefully a mix of, as Robert always does, interesting sort of character actors. I’m not saying it’ll be a Jeff Fahey but that idea of putting faces that are fun and familiar as Quentin and Robert always do, but he’s got Josh Brolin and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Sin City 2 along with a few other more character actor types, so it’s definitely going to be a bigger film.

It’ll certainly be above the $30 million zone that we usually make movies at. The philosophy of Bold is we’d love to keep making movies like Looper or Limitless where Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bradley Cooper are just about to be stars and respectively, Bruce Willis and Robert De Niro are stars but they’re used sparingly and you can sell off the backs of those actors, but you can make a movie that’s more artistically interesting. The point being if we started to make movies at 60, 70, 80, 100 million, that’s where you have to have a Mark Wahlberg or Dwayne Johnson or somebody in it. It’s just too much weight to bear where the content or even the filmmaker is the movie alone.

We prefer to try to stay in the 15-30 million zone where you can make a movie with an up and comer, you can do a Charlie Hunnam or somebody like that and the weight is on the filmmakers, Nicolas Refn or Rian Johnson if we get lucky to work with him. That’s kind of the approach. Let’s stay within a zone where we don’t have to overreach and overspend to put a major movie star in it and then expectations rise and suddenly a $45 million gross [like Pacific Rim] isn’t so good. It’s under what we spent on the movie.

Is Fire and Ice expected to be R-rated or PG-13?

I think the conversation with Robert is to push it as far as possible in the realm of a PG-13. We tend to do our movies and not necessarily lock into a rating ahead of time. That’s the benefit of not necessarily being a studio. I would rather have a movie that looks and feels like an R instead of well, it was PG-13 and we added a little more blood to get an R. Have the movie be what the movie is. Robert feels that he can make a movie that’s sexy, thrilling, violent without making a bloody full on R-rated movie. That’s hard if you make a movie that definitely is R and there’s boobs and blood, it’s somewhat limiting if you’re making a movie that’s meant to be an adolescent mindset, whether that’s 13-year-olds up to whomever. It’s part of the conversation but he, as far as I know, is committed to make it a hard-edged PG-13 movie.

Blood is a project I hadn’t heard of. What can you say about that?

Blood is sort of a gothic throwback. It has a Hammer quality I guess I could say about it. It has a family secrets southern gothic vibe to it. It’s about a woman who is having nightmares and strange sensations and gets a chance to delve back into the family that she never knew and that starts exposing some terrible, horrible secrets about her family.  Robert was inspired by a movie with Patty Duke, You’ll Like My Mother. It’s probably not going to be a huge budget movie. I imagine it to be in the $3-8 million zone, but that will definitely be an R-rated, gory psychological horror movie. It’s up in the air whether Robert would direct it or not. I think that’s part of the conversation too. Robert is focused on Fire and Ice and if he was going to direct it, it wouldn’t be for another year or so.

It’s inspired by the Patty Duke movie, but that’s an original?

It is an original idea of Robert’s. There’s a vibe in that movie, that weird, eerie [feeling]. It will have moments of gore but I think Robert is committed to doing something that’s sort of chilling in that classic haunting Hammer quality of a young woman going back home to try to peel through family secrets, sort of onion layers and uncovering things that are shocking and surprising, without giving too much away.

Nightcrawler sounds interesting to me, the idea of an underground world of freelance journalism. How is journalism underground?

It’s basically the idea of filming crime scenes. That’s the component, and certainly in a city like Los Angeles or New York, the movie happens to take place in Los Angeles, but the idea of he who gets to the footage and gets the best, juiciest footage first and can get it on the air first is victor. I think what’s interesting is there’s a real Paddy Chayefsky quality to the movie, i.e. Network, commenting on the media. Within moments of a crime happening in L.A., it’s huge and it’ll develop over a couple of hours, but then once that footage is up and it’s online and that story goes away, depending on who’s involved, is it an upscale crime, is it an urban crime?

It’s all about if it bleeds, it leads and once you move throughout a day, if there’s no deeper story than there was a shooting in an upscale neighborhood, that’s the story. That’s what gets people talking in the morning and that’s sort of the world that Gyllenhaal’s character operates in, like, “I gotta get this footage, the best footage to the news in the shortest amount of time.” It [asks] what is the responsibility of media, the people who film it, who report it and what is our feeling and response when we take that media in?

I’m really excited to see Rene Russo has a role in it. What does she play?

Rene will be playing a news producer, someone who’s certainly been in this business that we just talked about for quite a while and lives in Los Angeles and understands what the audience needs to fixate on when they get their coffee and their news in the morning. It’s her whole life, basically.

Is she Jake’s boss?

Basically, yes, she is Jake’s boss.