David Bowers, director of Flushed Away is set to bring his talents to the world of Osamu Tezuka’s Metro City in this fall’s Astro Boy. As part of the SDCC panel, it was revealed that Charlize Theron and Samuel L. Jackson have joined the cast. Bowers explains a little bit about who each are playing and talks about dream projects he could imagine for the future; including adapting the classic British cartoon “Danger Mouse.”
CSSHH!: The first question I have, actually, comes from my dad who was a big “Astro Boy” fan growing up and, when I told him there was a movie coming, he wanted to know if the old theme song was going to be around at all.
Bowers: We have our own theme music. We have John Ottmann who is just an amazing composer. He’s created just a really wonderful, stirring Astro theme song for our movie. I’m sorry to disappoint your dad, but he can just pop in a DVD of the ’60s show any time he likes. So, no, it’s a whole new start. But the score sounds fantastic. We recorded it in Abbey Road just a couple of weeks ago. It’s unbelievable. Just a huge orchestra. It sounds wonderful.
CSSHH!: How far away are you from a final cut?
Bowers: We have a final cut. We’re just waiting for a few scenes of lighting. Just finishing a few things off. We’re mixing at the moment at Fox and then it’s just color-timing and then it’s done. That’s the movie.
CSSHH!: What sort of running time are you looking at?
Bowers: I think that, with credits, it’s just over 90 minutes.
CSSHH!: It seems like you keep adding more surprises. Today I was happy to see the footage in the trailer of Astro battling the giant tentacled monster.
Bowers: (Laughs) Yes! We try to keep the audience guessing. It keeps things fresh and keeps things new.
CSSHH!: There’s definitely that balance between the classic “Astro Boy” and your take, but I did notice that, in the trailer, there’s one big action shot of him in his classic outfit, shirtless with shorts.
Bowers: You do. Actually, in the first sequence, where he’s created, he’s just in that classic outfit. But even in the Manga and TV show, he wears regular clothes. It would be strange to have him wander around in just a speedo. But by the end of the movie, he’s actually 100% classic Astro Boy.
CSSHH!: You had two big cast announcements: Charlize Theron and Samuel L. Jackson. Who are they playing?
Bowers: Samuel L. Jackson, I don’t want to give it away, because when his voice comes into the movie it’s such a great moment. But he is playing a robot and Charlize Theron, we have a little movie that opens the film. A movie within a movie. Charlize Theron is narrating it.
CSSHH!: Is that in the “Astro Boy” universe or is it a short?
Bowers: Oh, it’s in the “Astro Boy” universe. It’s part of the movie. It just sort of explains where we are and what the world is like. What purpose robots serve. It’s called “Our Friends, the Robots.” It sort of starts things off.
CSSHH!: Of course Samuel L. Jackson is a big comic book fan. Did he come after the movie?
Bowers: We approached Samuel L. Jackson. We sent him stuff and showed him some stuff and showed him what we’d like to do. He’s so gracious and just wonderful. He has just a few pivotal lines, but a really wonderful voice. He sounds great. Very impractical.
CSSHH!: Imagi is building up a reputation of taking known properties and doing very faithful adaptations with this, “TMNT” and now “Gatchaman.” Is there anything in particular you’d love to one day adapt?
Bowers: There are a few things. “Danger Mouse.” It’s a wonderful British show from the 1970’s. I’d love to see a big-screen version of that. There are a few properties from comics that, I remember as a kid and I would like to see. But I don’t want to mention any of them (Laughs).
CSSHH!: Do you find it easier or harder to take something that already exists and bring it to the screen?
Bowers: I think easier in the case of “Astro Boy” because there’s just so much great material to take and bring to the screen. “Flushed Away” was a different kind of movie. It was kind of a joke movie. For “Astro Boy” I kind of wanted to make something different. There’s much richer sort of “soil” in the manga. It’s more emotional. It’s still very funny, though.
CSSHH!: There’s a lot of emotional bits you’ve screened in the past and Kristen Bell said that it really got her. Was there ever a point where you thought it was just too much for a younger audience to handle?
Bowers: I don’t think so, no. I was looking at films I loved as a kid. “Pinocchio,” which is very similar to “Astro Boy” in many ways. It’s a scary and very, very dark movie. Same thing with “Bambi” and “Dumbo.” These are the films that people remember and that people like and love. This is where classics come from. Drama makes for good movies. To have drama, you have to have peaks and valleys. It can’t all be sweetness and light. I think it’s good. I think it encourages people to think about what the characters are going through which, in turn, means that you really care about them during the action sequences. In turn, that really makes the action sequences all the better. Real characters with real problems makes the movie all the better.
Astro Boy opens October 23rd. Check back soon for more interviews and a full-transcript from the panel.