Without a doubt one of the most anticipated films of the year is the upcoming Tron: Legacy, a sequel to the groundbreaking Disney film, Tron, from the '1980s starring Oscar winner Jeff Bridges. The film picks up twenty-eight years after the first one ends and follows Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) as he searches for his father Kevin (Jeff Bridges), who has been trapped inside the computer game that he created for over twenty-years. The movie promises to be a state-of-the-art 3D spectacular, the likes of which we have not seen before. The film doesn't even open until the end of the year, but earlier this week we were lucky enough to be invited to the Disney lot in Burbank to watch some of the exclusive footage from the upcoming movie.
While we can't give you too many specific details on what we saw, we can tell you that we had the chance to screen the official trailer in 3D and watch in 2D the footage that was shown at Comic-Con, as well as a few additional scenes. All in all we saw roughly thirty minutes of the movie, give or take, and in short ... it was freaking amazing! The effects, which were not even finalized yet, looked awesome. The action is fantastic and the film's plot is clever and original. We can't wait for the movie's official release later this year and think that fans of the original and even sci-fi audiences that have never seen the first film are going to be blown away by the incredible effects and the movie's loving homage to its predecessor. After the screening we had an opportunity to speak with one of the film's writers, Adam Horowitz, a former staff writer on the hit show Lost, to discuss the exciting new movie, the process of writing it and the joy of bringing Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner back together on the silver screen. Here is what he had to say:
Obviously, Jeff Bridges involvement with this sequel was pivotal to creating the story that you wanted to tell. Did you begin writing the script hoping that he would like it and want to do it or did you get his approval before you began penning the screenplay?
Adam Horowitz: What happened was this. It was the summer of 2007 and my partner Eddie Kitsis and I had a meeting with some Disney executives and they said that they'd like to do a follow up to Tron and asked if we were interested or had any ideas. We were like, "Yeah!" So we went back and watched the movie, which we've seen a million times and asked ourselves, what is what makes Tron so awesome? It's Jeff Bridges, he just leaps out at you. First of all, it had to be a follow up. It couldn't be a remake. It has to honor the original and continue the story. We thought when that helicopter lands at the end of the movie and he gets off on the roof of ENCOM, what happens? Where does he go? Then we thought its twenty-eight years later, would he have a son? That is a great emotional way in. If you are going to have an overwhelming world to see and experience then we felt like you needed a real emotional story to suck you in so you felt grounded. Then we thought what if you had a father son relationship where the son is caught between two fathers. What if you had a Kevin Flynn at thirty-five and a Kevin Flynn at his current age, CLU being this frozen avatar of Flynn at that age, so you have a son caught between two fathers. We pitched this idea having not knowing if it was even possible we just thought it was cool. That is our approach to everything. What makes it cool to us as fans and then let them figure it out. Sean Bailey who produced it brought us in to meet with Joe Kosinski and he was like, "Yeah, I can do that." Then we just went from there but to answer your question it was all hinging on Jeff Bridges. So we met with Jeff and we did pitch him the idea. Jeff was incredibly cool, had really great thoughts, was really excited and in to it. Once he was in we went off and wrote the script and went from there.
Do you think it was the new technology that's available, revisiting the character or something else entirely that excited him about returning?
Adam Horowitz: Well you'd have to ask Jeff that but I think that he has always had a fondness for Tron. Like when we first met him, we went to his house and at one point we were pitching him the movie when he said, "Wait, hold on." He ran upstairs and got the original Tron helmet and put it on. He was like, "Do you want to wear it?" We were like, "If we must." Do I have pictures of myself in the Tron helmet at home? Yes!
So clearly you were a "Tron" fan even before you started working on this project, is that right?
Adam Horowitz: Yes. It wasn't like I walked around saying, "Hey, do you want to see my Light cycle." It's funny my partner, Eddie Kitsis and I, one of our first jobs was writing for a WB television show called Popular. It was a Ryan Murphy show. You would be surprised what a geek Ryan is. We wrote an episode of the show and the storyline was about two kids in high school that were about to be grounded but had to do well on a project at school so they could get to a midnight screening of Tron with Bruce Boxleitner as guest. That was the driving thing of the whole episode. So that was always in our DNA, we were always thinking about it and loving it. Then we went from that and ended up writing a few other shows but eventually we wrote Lost for six years and that is a little more in the Tron genre. That has always been our thing, character based genre. Tron seemed like a great fit for that.
Was having Bruce Boxleitner back and involved as well essential to making this sequel?
Adam Horowitz: Well Bruce had to be involved, the movie is called Tron after all. I remember first meeting Bruce. It was at the table read. Bruce and Jeff were together and I mean they had seen each other over the years but it was the first time in this Tron context that they had been together in a long time so it was really cool. I remember thinking, is this really happening? Is this my life?
The film has had a huge presence at San Diego Comic-Con for two years running now, both in 2009 and this past year as well. Have you been at all surprised at the incredible anticipation and fan reaction that the film has been receiving over the last few years since it Disney first announced that it was being made?
Adam Horowitz: When we went to Comic Con in '09 that is when it began to get real for me. Watching the fans go in to Flynn's Arcade to see the Light cycle, Eddie and I, we went in with Joe, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde. It was funny because no one really knew who Garrett or Olivia were at that time so we were just mingling with the crowd and getting there reactions. It was unreal. At that point we had just wrapped photography. It was like two weeks later when that happened and we were just like, "Wow, now we only have eighteen months of post left to go. Lets not fuck this up." But Joe has always been cool as ice. He knows what he wants to do, he knows how to execute it and he just goes and does it.
Visually is what he's created similar to what you had imagined in your head when you were writing it?
Adam Horowitz: It's funny, as we wrote it we would send pages to Joe and he had artwork made as we were doing it. So it was this very collaborative thing. We'd be writing the disc game sequence and then Joe would show us what the arena would look like, what he was seeing for the gladiators and all that so it was a constantly evolving vision. It started with a couple of artists and Joe, then as it went along the art team got bigger and bigger until one day Eddie and I were like, "I think they are going to make this movie." It used to be just us and Joe, then it was like a hundred people working on the project.
As such a big fan of the source material, did you ever find that when you were writing the script that perhaps you began geeking out on a particular tangent from the original that didn't really serve this story so you had to pull it back a bit?
Adam Horowitz: I'm sure in early drafts we did. Here's how we looked at it. There is a slice of the universe that you can experience in under a hundred and ten minutes. We have to tell our story and stay on focus. The natural process of writing for us is thinking up a bigger world than you can ever really do. You have to do it like that if you want to have a sense of that richness and depth of mythology. So it starts here and then we hone it down to this. What happens is you make the story as focused as you can and what you try to do, and you'll see it in the movie, is have as many nods to the first film, Easter eggs and stuff that hopefully fans of the first film will get excited about. The goal was always to make a film that was a follow up to the first movie. One that fans that had never seen the first film can go in and see and then go back and watch the first movie and see how they come together. Then fans of the first one will get a thrill when they see the ENCOM tower or Alan Bradley and some other things that I'm not going to tell you about now.
Do you think that perhaps there is a danger to that kind of Easter egg film making? Do you think that it limits or inspires the creative process?
Adam Horowitz: I spent six years writing Lost so its kind of just reamed in me from that experience and I think that attitude carried over into this, which is: always assume that the audience wants to be treated with intelligence. That they want to be treated like they don't need things handed to them, that they are willing to work for it. I truly believe audiences like to be rewarded for digging past just what you show them. Movie going can be an active experience or a passive experience and you want it to work on all levels. That's the great thing about this movie is that you can go in and just enjoy the ride or it can be something else.
Finally, did you leave any loose ends in the movie's conclusion for a possible third film if this one does well?
Adam Horowitz: We just hope everyone enjoys this but they do have me under contract. Right now we are all focused on finishing this one and making it the best that we can.