Director D.J. Caruso

The director of this action-packed film talks about the new DVD, a non-summer theatrical release and Y: The Last Man

D.J. Caruso has certainly been one of the hottest directors in Hollywood over the last few years. After cutting his directorial teeth in television, he first made waves with the brilliant indie, The Salton Sea and followed that up with the studio films Taking Lives and Two For the Money and he even directed four episodes of the phenomenal series, The Shield. In 2007, though, his film Disturbia began his wonderful working relationship with a hot young actor named Shia LaBeouf, which paved the way for their second film together, Eagle Eye, which heads to DVD and Blu-ray on December 28. I had the chance to speak with Caruso over the phone about his new film and here's what he had to say.

Yeah, we talked before the theatrical release and I was in the group that saw about the first half-hour of the film.

D.J. Caruso Yeah. We had it over at Paramount or Amblin like the first 32 minutes or something like that.

Yeah, I was really pleased when I saw it in the theater so it's cool that it's finally coming out to DVD.

D.J. Caruso: Oh, cool, cool. Thank you.

Yeah, when I first saw that footage, one of the things that surprised me was that it wasn't a summer release. When we talked before the theatrical release, you said you were aiming for a summer start. The film did well theatrically, but do you think it would've made a bigger splash if it would've came out during the summer?

D.J. Caruso: That's a good question. You know, we're still in the theaters now and it's a couple of weeks before Christmas, so I think they ultimately made the right choice. We were originally scheduled to go up against Pineapple Express in that portion of the summer. I know that DreamWorks/Paramount also had scheduled Tropic Thunder, so to be squeezed between those two, and to be not too sure of how big Shia can star on his own, in sort of an adult role, I think the fact that we got over $100 million everyone is very happy and going to make a lot of money. I think it was the right choice at the end of the day. I think what happens during the summer, your playability on the weekdays is a lot more. You can make so much more money during the middle of the week than you can coming out in September, because once your weekends are done, in the 10 or 11 weeks the movie has been out, obviously the weekdays dry up a lot more. It's nice to be getting emails from the studio and they're still tracking the movie after Thanksgiving and to be in the top 10 for the seven or eight weeks that we were.

I had a chance to check out the DVD a little bit and I saw the Alternate Ending. I really loved it and, without giving too much away, can you talk a little bit about why you opted not to go with that ending in the theatrical release?

D.J. Caruso: Well, at the end of the day, the tone of the film seemed to be a little more intense than originally indicated. I thought it was a fun little coda, but we were fearful that people would think, 'Oh, there's going to be a sequel in there.' It wasn't really intended for that. It felt very much to me, what I really liked about that ending was that, it felt like that scene in Poltergeist where Craig T. Nelson wheels out the TV on the patio. It kind of had that feeling to it. I thought the kids were really dynamic and interesting. I think it was really more of a tonal thing. We were really pleased with the scene, but it just, ultimately at the end, the closure between Jerry and Rachel seemed more important and we ended up keeping that.

With the intense action and all the set pieces on the film, what there a particular part that was the most challenging to film or make? I can imagine the logistics are just amazing for all that.

D.J. Caruso: I think, from a physical shooting standpoint, believe it or not, the scene where they go to the airport and they sort of go on the conveyor belts, which was actually a real DHL facility, that was a really, logistical set because it was a practical set. Those belts moved very quickly and they ran off computer systems and they were quite dangerous, with camera operators falling and stitches and I hit my head. I think logistically, just from a logistic, how-do-we-capture-the-sequence and tell the story standpoint, that was one of the more difficult ones. Obviously, the opening where our characters meet each other, the car chase was very expensive. We tried to do everything physical and real and practical. It was a lot of fun but it was very tough.

There's some really great material on the DVD. How involved were you in that process of putting features together and stuff like that. I saw that you were interviewed in a lot of the things, but do you have any input into what content actually goes into the DVD?

D.J. Caruso: Yeah, you do. What's nice is, with the Paramount/DreamWorks folks, they sort of throw out ideas and you check off the ones that are the most viable and the ones that people would be the most interested in. They really kind of go along with that and if I were to say I think one is not good, they wouldn't have it, so they're very collaborative that way. Anything you can do to kind of help the concepts. I'm only speaking from the Paramount/DreamWorks aspect of the whole thing, they've been very very collaborative and cooperative and we've worked really well together.

Do you have a favorite feature on there?

D.J. Caruso: The personal favorite for me was that little interview with John Badham from WarGames. He was one of my mentors so it was really nice to sort of reconnect with him. I haven't seen the final sequence after it was all edited, because I don't want to look at myself, but it was probably the most fun I've had.

Kung Fu Panda kind of started this new trend for DVD's to be released on Sunday's , and it seems that you guys are kind of following that. Can you talk a little bit about that, about releasing it on a different day?

D.J. Caruso: I didn't know that Kung Fu Panda was the first one, because I'm always accustomed to Tuesday. I wasn't involved in that decision. Hopefully by then there'll be no Dark Knight on the shelves, people will buy them all and they'll be out of the way.

That's probably true. They said it sold 3 million on the first day.

D.J. Caruso: Is that right? Yeah.

Yeah. The shelves should be plenty clear by the time Eagle Eye hits the shelves.

D.J. Caruso: (Laughs) Right.

Are there any new developments for Y: The Last Man that you can tell us about?

D.J. Caruso: The script is getting better and closer. It's not quite there yet. We're still working on it and hopefully shortly after the holidays, we'll get a next draft in. The main thing is, we want to get the script right. It's been awhile, even before I was working on it, and they're trying to get the script right. Hopefully we can do that, and if we can crack it, hopefully we can get it done as soon as possible.

Excellent. So would you be trying to eye up 2011 as a release?

D.J. Caruso: Yeah. Everybody is sort of, at least through the beginning of 2010, everyone sort of has their movies, but they're starting to run out of the stockpile before the writers strike. I think there's a need for product between 2010 and 2011. If you look now, look at this Christmas. I had a conversation with someone this morning and you could have a movie like Y: The Last Man or some other big sci-fi action movie right now. It just seems like there's a void in that little area around this Christmas. I mean, you have great dramas, but you don't have anything like this.

Yeah, that's very true. So, finally, the disc comes out right after the holidays, and is there anything, for those who might have missed it in the theaters, is there anything you'd like to say to try to entice them to pick this up on DVD?

D.J. Caruso: Well, I just think that the DVD, you pop it in and you're going to be in for an electrifying ride. I think the sound will rock your home system if you have a home system, and the experience translates fairly well. At the end of the day, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the scope. If they haven't seen the movie, I think they'd be surprised by the scope and the performances.

Cool. Well, that's about all I have for you. Thank you so much for your time today, D.J.

D.J. Caruso: Nice to talk to you again. Take care.

You can check out the amazing action of Eagle Eye for yourself when the film comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on December 28.