Tron Legacy Q&A
Producer Brigham Taylor talks us through the daring digital sequel
There's a good origin story to the green lighting of the Tron sequel, the proof of concept material?
So we were working on this for a while. A few of us felt like there was an amazing title, amazing film, especially since the ideas of that film were so far ahead of their time in 1982. So we felt like there was something there, but we got to a certain point and then agreed that we needed to be able to show what we could do to get people excited about it. So we found this amazing young talent, Joe Kazinski, who had an engineering background and had an amazing commercials reel. We interviewed him, and he was into it, and we went to our bosses and got some money for him to deliver something. So we created what felt like a finished piece of film, and it really did exactly what we hoped to do. Everyone could see what we were after, and we mastered the technology, how to make it look live action in a digital world. So Comic-Con was the opportunity to show that to an audience and see how it would work. It felt like a trailer for a film that hadn't been made yet.
So what can you tell us about the story?
The first film existed on a server inside a company called Encom. This one happens on a server developed by Kevin Flynn. He's been gone for years, and has been found inside like Colonel Kurtz, gone too far up the river. So it's its own world, from the first film.
And why do we have two Jeff Bridges?
Well, there's the users and the avatars, and this character Clu who turned up in this material is Flynn's digital counterpart, so obviously he doesn't age in the same way.
In a way this is the story of a father and two rival sons.
It's the subtext. In a way the biological son was always in competition with his father's work, and it's a very complex set of relationships.
You're shooting in 3D and using Benjamin Button technology - how much more advanced than Avatar is this?
We actually used the cameras that Cameron and Vince Pace developed, but at every stage we're trying to use the very best technology. Eric Barber had a great head start with the aging technology - here, going back in time is a bigger challenge. We used every technique in the book here, and the very best in digital technology.
And Joe's working on this at a high level - he's got Kubrick references and all the rest.
Yes, he demands the best from everyone and himself. He's got one of the most exact and technical eyes ever. I think we can expect really great things from this guy.
Will there be a sequel?
It's a world in which any number of stories could be told, but we're not taking anything for granted. But you also want to get excited about stuff, so I would say it's early days on that but that is a big part of our conversation now because we are excited. But you guys cast the deciding vote on whether anything like that happens.
Steve Lisberger must weep at what you can do now.
He does, but the right kind of tears. I'll paraphrase him - in 1982, he wrote this story about Jeff Bridges being scanned and putting him on the grid. And two years ago, we scanned him and put him on the grid. Back then, there were no personal computers and he had to stand in line to use a Cray supercomputers. At the time he was ineligible for the Oscars because they thought he was cheating. And famously then he inspired Lasseter to go off and set up Pixar.
We're excited about it; we acquired the rights to a story Joe came up with. It's like the sci--fi of the 60s in that it's character driven but in a very different world. It's exciting for Disney because it's a new thing for us. It will be published as an illustrated novel, and he's generated a great deal of art work. It's an idea he had when he first arrived in LA, and we are trying to attract the right talent to fast-track that.
On Black Hole...
You might have noticed a nod to that in that trailer, but we've been developing that with a writer called Travis Beacham. It's a matter of not if, but when. That's something we think there were wonderful ideas at play, but that would be a total reinvention using some of the great ideas that were there in 79.
On Pirates 4...
Yes, it's going very well. We're nearly halfway through. We've been shooting on locations in Hawaii and we'll be here shortly working on stages in and around London. It's been great: Johnny's back, but with a cast of new characters. We sort of completed the previous saga so we're able to be free and easy and go on a new journey. I'm very excited about it, we've got a great script and a new director, Rob Marshall, who brings a new sensibility jumping into this world. It's a really character-focused piece, even though it's on a huge scale.