What’s Eli Roth’s Endangered Species about? He won’t say.
Getting Eli to talk is no big deal – the guy is a natural born raconteur – but getting him to talk about his mid-budget, PG-13 destruction movie takes a stronger interviewer than me. While chatting with him on the phone about Inglourious Basterds I tried to get some info, but he wouldn’t bite.
‘I can’t say anything without giving anything away!’ he said. ‘I saw Transformers and Cloverfield and
thought, ‘I have an idea for a mass destruction movie. But it’s going
to be very different from those films. And it’s science fiction, but a
little more grounded than that.’
Fair enough. I tried to worm my way into something by asking how he foresaw making a giant spectacle film at a budget of about 65 million dollars
‘I’ve been working on the script for the last year and a half, and meeting with the top visual effects people and doing various tests and research to find out how we’re going to make the movie in a cost-effective way,’ he said. ‘But I can’t really say how we’re going to do it without giving away certain plot details.’
A big part of bringing Endangered Species in on a limited budget, Roth says, is knowing how to spend your money right.
‘One thing that I’ve really prided myself on is learning filmmaking from the ground up,’ he said. ‘Being the guy who gets coffee and does budgets and schedules. I know where money is wasted. People couldn’t believe I made Cabin Fever for a million and a half, and they were shocked that I made Hostel for three million, and they couldn’t believe I made Hostel Part II for ten million. People have ideas that every movie has to cost 25 or 75 or 100 million, and that’s not the case. If you know how to spend the money it doesn’t have to be that expensive.’
One way of keeping costs down is to make two movies for essentially the price of one. Roth still wants to piggyback Thanksgiving, a slasher film based on the pitch-perfect fake trailer he did for Grindhouse, on Endangered Species. ‘That’s the plan,’ he told me. ‘I would love to do it almost as an exercise. After Hostel II we did the Grindhouse trailer and said, ‘Let’s get this thing out of the way,’ and it was the most fun we ever had. The crew was so fast and so loose that you’re moving at a pace where you’re just not self-conscious, and that’s where your best stuff sometimes comes from. Somehow that energy comes across.
‘So I thought it would be great to do a movie that’s a very difficult, exhausting, detail-oriented movie like Endangered Species, where every shot is like ‘How the fuck am I going to do this?’ and just go right into a movie that is just ‘Kill kill kill kill! Chop his head off! Chop his legs off! Chop his arms off!’ Something that’s pure bloodletting. It’s like dessert. It’s the reward for making Endangered Species.’
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey