LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Director Bryan Singer some shockwaves through the geek community last week when he revealed he was returning to Fox’s “X-Men” franchise, five years after he angered the studio by opting to make “Superman Returns” at Warner Bros.
Singer, who shot the first two “X-Men” installments, will develop and direct “X-Men: First Class.” The prequel to the “X-Men” movies will look at the teenage years of the super-powered mutant heroes.
He got on the phone to share his thoughts on “First Class,” his other projects, and worldwide box office champ “Avatar.”
SO HOW DID YOU END UP COMING BACK TO “X-MEN”?
It started with a conversation between (Fox co-chairman) Tom Rothman and I some time ago. We not only concluded a deal, but I’ve written a pretty concise treatment. There’s a story that I really want to tell.
WHAT IS THE STORY?
I can’t tell you that; it’s secret. But it’s basically about the formation of the X-Men. How they began and the relationship between a young Xavier and a young Magneto.
I REMEMBER WHEN YOU LEFT “X3” TO DO “SUPERMAN RETURNS.” IT
WASN’T UNDER THE BEST OF CIRCUMSTANCES.
A lot of that was comical and exaggerated. When you set up a rather lucrative franchise and produce one of the company’s biggest television shows (“House”), I think there is a lot of good energy on a business level.
But also, Tom Rothman and I have a very strong relationship from those early days of “X-Men 1” when he ascended to the chairmanship and I was involved in this very important movie for the studio. We bonded then. So I think he was frustrated then, as was I, because I couldn’t do a third “X-Men,” but that moment of frustration passed.
We have always looked at different projects to do together, but the timing was never right to do something like this. But now, it’s been about 10 years since the first “X-Men,” and this is a nice opportunity to look back at the origins of that universe.
DO YOU THINK THE X-MEN CAN EXHAUST THEMSELVES? YOU’VE GOT
THE ORIGINAL THREE, YOU’VE GOT “WOLVERINE,” YOU’VE GOT A
“DEADPOOL” AND “MAGNETO” IN THE WORKS ...
This story would probably utilize some of the Magneto story because it deals with a young Magneto, so it might supersede that because this would explore that relationship between a young energetic professor and a disenfranchised victim of the Holocaust.
But no, I don’t see an exhaustion. The X-Men universe is boundless. These are great characters. And as young characters, they are quite different than the characters we have seen in the contemporary movies.
WOULD YOU DO “JACK THE GIANT KILLER” FIRST?
Right now that is the plan. Unless there’s a problem in the development process. There is a script for “Jack”; we’re in visual development. We’ve got artwork and pre-viz that we are doing. But you never know how things go. I have a writer named Jamie Moss working on “First Class.”
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK WITH HIM?
He’s a really good writer, and of the writers I met with, he interpreted my story the best and brought the most to it. Because I’m so actively involved in the script development of my movies, I’m very hands-on, I need a certain kind of writer and a certain kind of availability to me. And he fit that bill. He’s quite talented.
AND WHAT IS GOING ON WITH “BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” (THE
BIG-SCREEN TAKE ON THE TV SHOW) AND THE OTHER PROJECTS?
We just concluded a deal for “Battlestar Galactica,” and we’re looking for a writer. And for “Excalibur,” we’re still in negotiations. Those are the four directorial projects that I and my company are involved in.
SO ARE YOU STILL LOOKING FOR MORE PROJECTS?
From an event movie development position, it’s a healthy slate for me, it’s things that I’m passionate about. But you never know. In between two big movies, a smaller, more character-driven movie can fit. I’m never opposed that. “Valkyrie” was supposed to be that, and it turned out to be bigger than it was intended to be.
I enjoy these large canvas movies, I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, and my company produces a lot of things that allow me to do smaller, character-driven projects.
YOU TOOK A BREATHER AFTER “VALKYRIE,” BUT OVER THE PAST FEW
MONTHS YOU HAVE BECOME ATTACHED TO SOME BIG PROJECTS. WHAT MADE
YOU COME OUT OF YOUR SELF-IMPOSED EXILE, IF YOU WILL?
Well I have been working a lot, on producorial stuff. When you have a company, you have five or six film projects in development, some TV, like the one I’m doing with Bryan Fuller called “SelleVision” for NBC, but when you’re shooting abroad, it’s frustrating because you can’t devote a lot of time for them.
So when I was through with “Valkyrie,” I was able to devote eight or nine months to that and also take some personal time for my family. And then focus on these. These are big undertakings.
So it appears as a self-imposed exile but I was actually working quite a bit. And as a result, now these projects are coming to fruition. So when I go presumably to London to make “Jack,” a lot of these things will be running at my company and I’ll be able to enjoy the (film) process in London.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF “AVATAR”?
It was very cool. I had seen 30-40 minutes before, but the whole thing was amazing. From the beginning, with those shots in space, I felt goosebumps. It was inspiring. I’m going back and forth, debating, on using 3D for “Jack,” and it pushed me a little closer in the 3D direction.
JUST A LITTLE BIT?
3D is a little daunting. And then there’s the decision of, do you shoot in 3D, or do you post in 3D? And how to achieve that? I have a very good visual effect supervisor on “Jack” who has a lot of 3D character experience.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOLIDAY PLANS?
I go to Hawaii. I go to the same hotel, I sit in the same room, and then I get bored of vacationing in two days then I go to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in a strip mall overlooking a parking lot in Oahu and I work. A lot of good work has come out of those sessions in that Coffee Bean. I feel very energized and not distracted. It’s a local strip mall with Hawaii people who have no idea who I am. They just know I am always there around the holidays and working on stuff.