Richard Kelly on The Box and Beyond

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Talking from the NYC premiere red carpet

The Box, Richard Kelly’s delayed third film, starring Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and Frank Langella sees wide release this weekend. That means it’s time for bi-coastal premieres and ShockTillYouDrop attended the New York event at AMC Lincoln Square 13 right off Central Park.

The film was adapted from the short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson and takes place six years after the publication of that story in 1970. Norma Lewis (Cameron Diaz) is a teacher at a private high school and her husband, Arthur (James Marsden), is an engineer working at NASA. They are, by all accounts, an average couple living a normal life in the suburbs with their young son…until a mysterious man with a horribly disfigured face appears on their doorstep (Frank Langella) and presents them with a life-altering proposition: the box. With only 24 hours to make their choice, Norma and Arthur face a momentous moral dilemma. They soon discover that the ramifications of this decision are beyond their control and extend far beyond their own fortune and fate.

Richard Kelly is best known as the writer/director of the cult classic Donnie Darko and the oft-overlooked but equally as intriguing Southland Tales. Both movies were independent films and The Box represents Kelly’s first foray into studio filmmaking.

“I’m trying to get to a place where I can make more mainstream films with the studio system,” Kelly told us, “[And] still hold on to my voice. But try to move into a more mainstream and accessible arena with bigger audiences. I’ve done the independent film twice and it’s a wonderful experience, but it’s so much work. That part of the business is in a bit of disarray right now.”

The Box has had a long and arduous journey to the screen. When Cameron Diaz was first cast in the film, it was her first role as a mother. Since then, we’ve seen bald Diaz in My Sister’s Keeper and Frank Langella bring his portrayal of Nixon from stage to screen (Frost/Nixon). Last November, Warner Bros knocked The Box‘s release date from March 2009 to this upcoming Friday, November 6. A delay like that from Warner Bros started the rumor mill that The Box was going to get the Trick ’r Treat boot or possibly the slow deterioration of buzz that many attribute to the financial failures of Kelly’s sophomore effort, Southland Tales.

Kelly claims neither speculation is correct:

“I think we spent a long time editing this film and there’s a lot of CGI, particularly a lot of CGI on Frank Langella’s face. That took us almost a year to finish, to make it look just right. And when you have CGI on an actor’s face, you have to lock the picture before you can spend the money to use CGI. That process ended up taking quite a bit of time. But, it helped me craft exactly the right movie, we got the cut where it needs to be. Sometimes time benefits a movie and makes it fulfill it’s potential.”

Kelly also used the extra eight months to get involved in the film’s marketing and the greater experience of The Box for those that wish to venture online.

“I’ve actually been working on all the stuff, the middle material, for the past three or four months that has really been exciting for me to expand the universe of the movie into the ancillary markets,” Kelly said while holding up the red carpet, “We designed a whole website, thebox-movie.com and if you go to YouAreTheExperiment.com you can see a prequel I directed. A prequel to the film.”

As for Kelly’s next project on the horizon, he confirms that it is set in the Manhattan of 2014 and is a sci-fi thriller.

“With something like Avatar coming out, it helps me re-claim this childhood sense of discovery of when I saw Terminator or Aliens for the first time. Seeing the trailer for that film brings back all those memories and makes me remember why I got into the business,” says Kelly.

Does that mean his next film is going to rely heavily on motion capture?

Says Kelly: “I certainly hope so. I hope The Box will provide me with that opportunity.”

Source: Dave Gonzalez