Donkey Kong Pixels poster

When you read that initial script, did that have all the licensed video game characters in it already or…?

It did. And I think Sony was still working on some of the licensing. And then as we further got into the writing, I wrote a little on the script with Timothy Dowling and I gave it back to Tim Herlihy who writes with Adam and we just bounced it back and forth a couple of times. And at some point in the process, I don’t remember when, Donkey Kong was an idea and we were like oh we’ll never get rights to Donkey Kong. I said, well let’s try. We’ll try to put it in the movie. And then Nintendo granted us rights. So, I mean, to have this cast is remarkable. I mean, you’ve got like all the greatest hits of video arcade games from the ’80s. And these are superstar game characters. So it’s just amazing.

Were there any prima donnas that you couldn’t get into the movie?

No.

I mean, other video game characters, I’m not talking about actors.

No. I mean, every character that was in the script we eventually had to have meetings with Namco Bandai and Nintendo and Atari, whoever, [depending on] whatever character we were dealing with. And they as they should, they care greatly about their characters. And we treat them with great respect. So…

pixels pac man creator

Is that the creator of Pac Man who is in that trailer?

No. That is an actor portraying him.

He looks a lot like the real guy.

Yeah. That’s an actor portraying the character of Pac Man. But when you see the beginning of the movie, and during the credit sequence, which takes place in 1982, you’ll see a Japanese repairman repairing a Pac Man game in the credits. That’s the real Professor Iwatani. He used to repair videogames before he invented Pac Man.

Oh wow, I didn’t know that.

So take a look, look out for that.

Gremlins remake

The concept feels very inspired by Ghostbusters. Can you talk about that? And ’cause obviously Sony’s making their own Ghostbusters universe of movies now. Was there any like pressure to stay away from that territory or…?

Well look, When Josh Gad saw the rough cut of the movie, he said this is the first Amblin movie since like 1986. And I said, well that’s what we were really going for. We wanted to create that feeling that you had when you went to see those Amblin movies back in the mid ’80s. You know, there was a certain feeling. I can’t, it was a little edgy. As a kid, you felt like you were seeing something that–

You weren’t being talked down to.

You weren’t being talked down to. The movie was made not only for the kids, but for their parents. So that was the goal with this was really to create that evocative feel of the ’80s. Now that evocative feel of those Amblin pictures obviously goes, you know, I was there, so I brought a little Gremlins and Goonies into it. A little bit of Indiana Jones. A little bit of Ghostbusters, which was not an Amblin film, but still had that feeling. So it’s a combination of it’s a, it’s got a lot of influences. You know, Ghostbusters not–

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There’s never any pressure like “oh we’re doing something similar to that in Ghostbusters.” I mean, you’ve got the ghost cars. 

Right. Oh you mean the four ghosts that are the– well we were trying to come up with… what was fascinating to us is to create a version of Pac Man on the streets of Manhattan which has the grids that are like the game has. How do you get to that? Well you use four ghost Mini Coopers exactly in the colors of the original ghosts from Pac Man. So it was not Ghostbusters at all. It was really based on how to bring the Pac Man game to life.

John Hughes

You’ve done a bunch of John Hughes projects. And I’ve heard that he had many scripts that have never been made that were more recently discovered.

Right.

Any thoughts of picking one of those up and doing one?

Nobody’s sent them to me. I haven’t seen them. So if these scripts exist, I don’t know where they are. I mean, I guess it’s interesting that you mention that now. You put it in the back of my head. Maybe I’ll think about actually is there a way that I can get access to those scripts. I haven’t seen them.

I’ve been wondering that. I read a bunch of pieces that said that he kept on writing even after he retired.

I’ve heard that as well, but I haven’t seen any of it. I don’t know where they are. I don’t know if they’re with his family or with a studio.

Well if there were anyone, you would probably be the guy to do it.

I heard something like that from Kirk Honeycutt as well. ‘Cause I did the forward for his book. And I was so yeah, I’m intrigued. I would love to. At the very least, I’d love to read them to see what he was thinking about at those. ‘Cause he wrote, John wrote very fast. You know, Home Alone was written I think over a weekend, which is insane.

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