We’ve had a good start to the year with the hefty London Has Fallen, sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, giving us some breathing room for some good manly movie action. Co-writer Creighton Rothenberger brings these movies about, with his wife and also co-writer Katrin Benedikt. So this week ManlyMovie catches up with Creighton to discuss his latest movie. Check out our interview below.
Were you surprised when Olympus was a smash hit? Grateful and appreciative is probably a better descriptor. This was an idea that took 10 years for us to get off the ground and finally up on the big screen (though the whole time I can honestly say I always felt in my heart it would be successful). To see those instincts confirmed in the end was very validating.
Were you happy when it kind of over-matched White House Down both financially and critically (a very similar movie, more family friendly – MM)? I was more surprised that after it took us so many years to sell our script, that another movie with virtually the exact same premise would get set up just a few weeks later. Then it became a race. Because we were the smaller project (budget-wise and studio-wise), we absolutely had to hit theaters first. So I was happy when we did and Olympus found its audience.
Are you conscious of a growing taste for an alternate to comic book hegemony for action/adventure movies? While I enjoy the comic book movies immensely, I do think there’s a hunger out there for action movies set in and based upon the real world. Real flesh-and-blood characters dealing with real life-and-death stakes. Hopefully the Olympus/London franchise delivers for this audience.
Is the goal in writing an action sequel like this to try something fresh, or give people who know what they like more or the same? A little of both actually. Fresh and novel is always good (as is bigger and better), but since you have the same characters and world that the audience knows (and hopefully likes) from the original, you don’t want to get too far afield in the sequel from what the fans gravitated to in the first place.
There are some good one liners in there, did you come up with ‘head back to fuckheadistan’ or did Gerard Butler ad lib? The ‘fuckheadistan” line wasn’t ours. I don’t actually remember reading it in any of the versions of the script, so it may have been ad-libbed during production. Not certain about that one.
Were you under pressure to tone things down to reach a broader audience or was this always going to be harder action flick? London was always going to be hard R like Olympus. That’s the audience we’re trying to entertain. If you tone it down to try to attract a broader market, you risk alienating your core audience, which we feel almost always turns out to be a mistake.
What are the key components behind the architecture of writing a good action set piece? First, the set piece should hopefully be organic to the story, and not just action for action’s sake. Then, you’d ideally like each set piece to play like a mini-movie – with a beginning, middle, and end. Keep raising the stakes, ratcheting the tension, getting to the point where you think there’s no way the hero’s going to get out of this one – and then he does. Bottom line, though, you’re really just trying to make every action sequence as kickass/memorable/cool as possible. Think big trailer moments.
As a man and wife team, do Katrin and you ever have disputes such as ‘C’mon, Banning wouldn’t do that’, or is it a case of two brains being twice as efficient? We have differences of opinion all the time. I think it makes our writing stronger. Katrin sees things I would never see and vice versa. We’ve gotten to the point now that we trust each other enough that we usually just go with whoever feels most passionate about their position. If one of us is absolutely, positively convinced their take is the right one, that’s the one we go with. And yes, two brains are definitely better than one.
Currently, London is doing well at the B.O. So hopefully we get our third movie, any musings on the third city to fall? We’ve definitely been brainstorming where we can take the franchise next. Probably too early to reveal anything at this time though.
Finally, can you tell us anything about ‘Twice’, ‘The Sentence’ or ‘Shield of Straw’? Twice is a project we wrote with Luc Besson (who’s simply been awesome to work with). Jean Francois Richet is attached to direct, and they’re currently out to cast. The Sentence is another EuropaCorp project we absolutely love, with Neil Marshall attached to direct. And we’re still in the early stages with Shield of Straw – that’s another awesome project though, and one we’re very excited about. So we’re working hard and keeping busy.