Jonny Quest movie

Robert Rodriguez hosted two panels for the Television Critics Awards today on behalf of his El Rey Network, speaking about his interview series The Director’s Chair and season two of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. He even showed a clip of his chat with Michael Mann about Heat. After the panel, Rodriguez stayed to answer follow-up questions, so I asked him about his plans for the live-action Jonny Quest.

“I thought it’d be really cool to do a legitimate action/adventure film that just happens to have a kid in it,” Rodriguez said. “Not a kids film; the Spy Kids were more like kids films, this would be like a real action-adventure film because that’s what the original series was like. It was a hard hitting, kickass action-adventure series. That’s what enticed me to go do it. My own series had already played out. That was a cool property still that the studio had. I thought I would go see what they thought of it and they were really into it.”

Spy Kids was sort of James Bond-meets-Roald Dahl, with surreal Willy Wonka-esque characters like the Thumb Thumbs. Rodriguez says Jonny Quest will be something new for him.

It’d be different from anything that I’ve done. I’ve never done anything really that wasn’t either a really small little kid type movie or a more violent action film. This would be like doing a James Bond/Indiana Jones movie. Imagine you’re a kid and James Bond is your bodyguard and your dad is Indiana Jones. It’s one of those movies and you just happen to be in it.

Rodriguez is usually outspoken about how he prefers to work independently with lower budgets he can control. He even spoke on the panel about how he follows the advice of mentors like George Lucas, to create original stories instead of working on other people’s franchises.

Rodriguez succeeded in turning three of his ideas into franchises: El Mariachi, Spy Kids, and Machete. (There’s also From Dusk Till Dawn, which he created with Quentin Tarantino and has spun into a TV series.) But with Jonny Quest, Rodriguez sees an opportunity to complement his own skill set.

Rodriguez said,

There are just so few properties that are interesting. I’ve always wanted to do one because you learn a lot. Doing a studio project like that, you would learn something that you would bring back to something that you do on a smaller scale. You have a bigger budget than I would normally work with. So I was always looking for a franchise. I knew Dan Lin a long time. He did Lego Movie, he’s a producer, he did a movie with me called Shorts. Years and years ago he brought me Jonny Quest. I was like, ‘You know, I have my own series. I’m doing the Spy Kids movies.’ Once those played out, he came back again recently and said, ‘What about Jonny Quest?’ I’m still a huge Jonny Quest fan. My kids still watch Jonny Quest. They’re still so into it. I turned them onto it when they were little and now they’re 17, 18, and 12 but they still love it.

Jonny Quest may delay another of Rodriguez’s long-developed film projects, the live-action remake of Fire and Ice. Or it may not. Rodriguez is a multi-tasker, so he may just do both.

Fire and Ice might go at the same time, I don’t know,” he said. “Fire and Ice is also being turned in at the same time so I’m not sure which one is going to go first.”

Rodriguez has said in the past that Fire and Ice would take a Sin City approach, using visual effects and green screen to create a live-action comic book. “We’re still working on exactly how we’ll do the whole thing but we’ve done tests that are pretty amazing.”

We haven’t heard a lot about Rodriguez’s proposed Heavy Metal TV series in a while. At Comic-Con 2011 Rodriguez announced the series, and has been soliciting submissions from animators. I asked if he’d collected all the content for the series, and Rodriguez simply said, “Almost, almost.”

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