From Dusk Till Dawn is one of my favorite films. So, it goes without saying that Gianni Nunnari is one of my favorite producers. He bought the script for that film long before anyone knew who Quentin Tarantino was. Since that time, he has produced a dozen great, truly classic flicks.
He has a ton of stuff on his plate. He is working on an adaptation of Paolo Coelho's best seller Eleven Minutes. He is doing an adaptation of Frank Miller's Ronin, which will be a sort-of follow-up to 300. And he is also working on Martin Scorsese's Silence, which is also an adaptation of a popular novel.
Here is our chat:
I just have to say, From Dusk Till Dawn is my second favorite film of all time, so it is a real honor to speak with you this afternoon.
Gianni Nunnari: (Laughs) Fantastic. You are the best phone caller I have had today. I have been doing this since five-thirty in the morning.
I'm mainly calling to catch up with you about Ronin, is there anything you can tell me about this film?
Gianni Nunnari: I mean, I cam tell you a lot. Look, Ronin, we are working on it. We are developing the film with Sylvain White attached as the director. He is firmly attached, and he will start after his next movie, which is Castlevania. We are exploring pitches based on the take that Sylvain wrote with us. Which is based on Frank's graphic novel. As soon as we find the most satisfying writer, that person will start writing the script and hopefully we can think about starting to shoot the movie in 2008.
Sylvain White directed Stomp the Yard, am I correct?
Gianni Nunnari: Yes, he did.
What was it about his aesthetic in that film that made you want to hire him for Ronin?
Gianni Nunnari: Well, we were working with Sylvain White before he directed Stomp the Yard. So, we actually prepared and shot, and edited a teaser. Which we have. It was directed and put together by Sylvain. And everybody loves it. You see this teaser trailer, and you understand what Ronin will be. You see the goal we are trying to achieve when we go and shoot it. So, it is very difficult to say. After that was when Sylvain went off and did Stomp the Yard, which is a little bit like when Zack (Snyder) went off and did Dawn Of The Dead. And then when he came back, we went ahead with 300. But why do I think, after Stomp the Yard, Sylvain White stayed attached to Ronin. If you watch the dance scenes from the first twenty minutes of Stomp the Yard, you will see that they are a lot like action scenes. With speed bumps on the way to shooting a movie, I like how his movie is an action movie, but it is not based on typical action. What he did with that was pretty fucking awesome. So, he is now doing this kind of movie. A movie that has proper action. And you can see that he has the passion for Ronin. Look, I always marry directors with passion for a project.
Do you want to know something funny?
Gianni Nunnari: Yeah.
I saw 300 at a drive-in, and Stomp the Yard was showing on the screen next door. There was actually a scene in that film that made me turn away from what was going on in 300. Just so I could see what the heck was going on with this dance movie. It was the scary scene at the end, where the competitors are wearing the masks. So, yeah, I can totally see Sylvain directing a big action movie.
Gianni Nunnari: Look, I called my offices. I had to follow up with Sylvain after this, and after that. The reality of it is, there are five or ten minutes at the beginning of Stomp the Yard that are better or comparable to any other action movie. Including 300.
Well, I eventually ended up going to see Stomp the Yard, because what I had seen while watching 300 interested me greatly. And I actually liked that film a lot. I think Sylvain White is a great choice for Ronin. How closely are you sticking to the source material for this one?
Gianni Nunnari: I don't know if you are familiar with the original graphic novel?
I am not, to be honest with you.
Gianni Nunnari: It's like an odyssey of many, many stories. It is based on many classic dramatic situations. I think you can recognize many hints in many movies. So, it's kind of hard. First of all, its not like 300. That was a narrow, precise story in a narrow, precise location. Just three hundred guys going against an army. Easy, you take that and then you add all the drama. With Ronin, you have to go in three different directions. There are a thousand ways of doing it. It is not so black and white. You can just see that in the graphic detail of the drawings. There are two graphic novels. 300 is very precise. Even with the imagination. Ronin is intentionally unfocused. Because of that, we do have to work on a certain linear story, which we need. And everybody likes it. Everything you see will be part of the Ronin graphic novel. But it is only, maybe, the beginning. And it gives us a reason to have a lot of Ronins. Because that is what we see. We sometimes see them putting the entire graphic novel into one movie. 300 was easier to do that with because it had one simple plot.
Have you guys made any casting decisions on Ronin yet?
Gianni Nunnari: No, there are no casting decisions yet. We are at the level of writing the script. We have a fantastic take, which Warner Brothers loves. Warner Brothers is completely behind the decision of Sylvain White, and we have the same team as I worked with from the very beginning of 300. So, we know exactly how to work, and marry this mission. We always think on how the characters should be. In the comic book, the Ronin is Japanese. But we are thinking we are going to merge a couple of different characters. There have been no names as far as the casting.
How closely are you working with Frank Miller on this?
Gianni Nunnari: Very close. Frank is part of the project. He is part of the team. He is also one of the producers.
Gianni Nunnari: Look, the fantasy in our world is finite. I could never say that there is no sequel to 300. It might not have the same characters, because these 299 people died. There was one character that survived. But if we go back to his story, you have the Greek/Persian war, which lasted 500 years. Essentially, we could just go and grab any of the millions of battles that these guys had and do it in the same style as 300. That is what I would consider "the" sequel to 300. In terms of the style of Ronin, it is not the sequel of 300. People in the audience will recognize that it is the same author. The same producers. It's the same, maybe, writers' teams. It's that animal logic. The same special effects company is involved in it. Technically, it is a sequel. Look, I would say that it is the brother of 300. But look, I was just talking about this yesterday. 300 is a step that has been overridden. Because I heard they are pioneering technology that is a thousand times better than what we used on 300. I'm talking about the technicality of it. When we go soot Ronin, we are going to have to step up three or four levels above. Maybe more. I was told, "You really can't repeat the same situation in the movies. You can just hopefully try to top what you already did." My hope is that everyone tries to do better than what we did. It will already be a replica. That fact tells you that it wont be original. It will be viewed as something less.
Do you guys have a release date for the 300 DVD?
Gianni Nunnari: Yeah. July 31st. If I'm correct. I think that is when it is.
To switch gears here for a moment, you are also working on the Martin Scorsese movie Silence. Can you tell me anything about that, or how that is coming along?
Gianni Nunnari: Silence is probably my best project. We've worked so hard on this project for so many years. I think Martin is doing something else next. The go of Silence depends on a lot of availability. And how you puzzle all the casting, and all of that. I think Silence has three or four big casting roles. Which Martin is working hard on filling. I think he has the characters worked out, we just have to wait for the actors' availability. So, he has one more movie in front of that. Then we will go into Silence.
Can you talk about any of the actors you might be considering for that?
Gianni Nunnari: Its extremely premature. I can only tell you that they are very close to Marty, and they are very big actors.
Is anyone coming back from The Departed?
Gianni Nunnari: Uh, no. I'm talking about in general. All of Martin's gang of actors.
How has it been working with Martin Scorsese these last couple of years?
Gianni Nunnari: You know, it's Martin Scorsese. I personally know Martin as one of the first directors from when I started working in Hollywood. I think it is the best situation that a producer can have in his life. You know? He is a director that you can marry to a project. He sources every single aspect of the movie. In terms of writing with the writer, working with the team, working with the actors, working with the casting directors. It is complete. I don't think there is any more complete director than Martin Scorsese.
Do you have any news about The Departed sequel? I've heard that Mark Wahlberg is going to be the star of that, and that they are bringing back Alec Baldwin. Is there any truth to that?
Gianni Nunnari: I don't know. I heard it the same way you heard it. We would all like to see a sequel to The Departed. There is probably the desire to do it. You cannot stop the desire.
Do you know if Scorsese is interested in doing that?
Gianni Nunnari: I don't think I'm aware of any director or anything other than the idea of trying to create a sequel for The Departed.
Have you been on IMDB lately?
Gianni Nunnari: We use it all the time.
I was wondering about Eleven Minutes. They have it listed as being a feature length documentary about Project Runway. That is not correct, is it?
Gianni Nunnari: That is not correct. Eleven Minutes is something you can go and check out. It is a bestseller by Paolo Coelho, the author of "The Alchemist". And many other books. But Eleven Minutes has sold millions and millions of copies, and it has been translated into many different languages. I think the success of selling the book is right behind the The Da Vinci Code.
When is that film coming out?
Gianni Nunnari: We just finished the script. It is great. We are doing it at New Line, and we are now looking for the right director. We are actually looking to shoot it this year, in 2007. It will probably get a 2008 release.
Is it okay to go back into you history just for a little bit?
Gianni Nunnari: Sure.
Just because I am such a big fan of From Dusk Till Dawn, I'm wondering if you were happy with the sequels to that film?
Gianni Nunnari: You know, I also, like you , am so in love with that film. It was one of those projects that I just jumped into. I bought the script many, many years ago before anyone knew about Quentin. I loved it so much, really. They went with a really fast kind of trilogy, but I still think that film is so cool, I would probably do another From Dusk Till Dawn. That is only in my mind. But I would start from scratch. It would be a really big "A" movie. I just love the idea of these two guys ending up locked in a bar with a bunch of vampires.
That was my follow-up question. If you would ever consider revisiting that word.
Gianni Nunnari: I would really like to do that. Yeah.
That would be awesome. Did you see Grindhouse?
Gianni Nunnari: I didn't see it yet.
There are so many references to From Dusk Till Dawn in that film. Anyway, I had a lot of fun talking to you today.
Gianni Nunnari: Thanks, Phil!
I'll probably see you at a junket sometime in the future.
Gianni Nunnari: Absolutely. We will keep in touch. Hopefully, you keep coming and seeing our movies.
Neither Ronin nor Silence have a release date. Look for them in the coming years.