Monday, September 25, 2006

Wither 'Lestat'?

All of this recent hoo-fer-oo about Brad Pitt taking over the Mission: Impossible franchise got me thinking about the last time the Pitt and the Cruise collided: Interview With a Vampire.

Here was a movie that had everything going for it. Two stars in full bloom (and a third, Kirsten Dunst, just waiting to be done with puberty). A devoted fanbase that was both incited to bloodlust by the author (Anne Rice famously decried Tom Cruise's casting) and then mollified by same (she later recanted after seeing the film). And a major studio bankrolling it to the tune of $50 million, with Neil Jordan at the helm.

It worked. When Interview came out in 1994, it was both a critical and financial hit. It made more than $100 million stateside (and this was back when $100 million meant something), and grossed another $120 million overseas.

Now, this is a book that's a first in a series. What's more, the second book, The Vampire Lestat, is even better than the first. So, where was the sequel? Didn't they want to make some more money? When a movie does that well, and the major characters aren't dead, and you've actually subtitled the film with the phrase "The Vampire Chronicles," you all but have to do another, right?

Hell, even Amy Pascal, who greenlit the horrific Godzilla remake knows the name of this tune: "If a movie makes $400 million, you make a sequel," Pascal said to EW a while back, in reference to a rumored Godzilla 2. "It's that simple."

So, why no Lestat? Did neither Cruise not Pitt want to take part? Fine. Recast, especially today, in this world chock full of pretty white boys. I'm sure Rice had to part with the rights to the series as part of her initial deal—why leave that property lying fallow, out back with the unused gardening equipment and rusty lawn furniture?

Money, left on the table. I'm just saying...


Bill Cunningham said...

There was QUEEN OF THE DAMNED remember?

(I know - we're all trying to forget it, but there it is...)

Laura Reyna said...

I've been wondering about 'Interview' myself. A while ago I was thinking about writing a vampire story & Interview kept popping up in my mind. It had a lot of good, classic vampire elements.

But funny that you say Interview was both a critical & financial success. I seem to remember that it did OK business (If it made $100 mil, how much did it COST?)& got so-so reviews. And that there were all sorts of development & production problems.

I haven't seen it in yrs (i'm thinking of getting the DVD). I remember i liked the look & milieu of the movie, but found the story/plot itself unremarkable, & the pacing slow... IOW, the movie was boring.

I think alot of fans & industry people were disappointed w/ the results. ... & like Bill pointed out, Queen of the Damned pretty much killed the franchise.

But even so, if i owned the rights to the Lestat books, i would look into making it into a TV series-- maybe on cable so you could keep the 'edge'.