Disney This Week: Scott Derrickson Doctor Strange interview & more!
Welcome to another edition of our regular weekly feature Disney This Week here at ComingSoon.net, rounding up the latest news on all things Disney, including an exclusive interview with Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, along with news on movies, TV, Blu-ray/DVD, Marvel Studios, theme parks, fan art and Disney history. Let us know what you like or want to see more out of in Disney This Week in the comments below!
For the digital and home media release of the film, Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Studios has released a new Doctor Strange featurette about the end tag where the Sorcerer Supreme meets the God of Thunder. Watch Doctor Strange and Thor meet in the player above!
Ahead of the digital and home media release of the film, Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Studios have released the Doctor Strange gag reel which you can check out in the player above!
Marvel Studios‘ upcoming threequel Thor: Ragnarok has revealed new concept art and a new Team Thor video for the Taika Waititi film. Check out the Thor: Ragnarok concept art screengrabs from the Doctor Strange Digital HD release in the gallery below, along with the hilarious Team Thor video below!
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The home video release of Doctor Strange includes a featurette from the rest of Phase 3, offering fans a look at what’s ahead for the MCU. Included in that featurette are some new pieces of Black Panther concept art, which you can find in the gallery at the link above!
Marvel Studios has debuted a new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 spot, which you can watch above! The James Gunn film opens in theaters on May 5.
Marvel Studios has just released two new videos, both of which tease the excitement to come when Marvel Phase 3 continues! In the first player below, you can check out a Facebook Live video from the set of the now-filming Avengers: Infinity War. It begins as star Robert Downey Jr. reflects on a production that is set to take up a full year and will, through the course of Infinity War and it’s still untitled sequel, cross over the Marvel Cinematic Universe like never before! In the second video, there’s a full featurette on where Marvel Phase 3 is headed and it offers up a behind-the-scenes look at what’s to come, including concept art and the promise that audiences will be getting “an event like no one has ever seen on film before!”
Go behind the scenes as The Walt Disney Studios reveals a new Beauty and the Beast featurette, which you can watch using the player above!
Angela Lansbury is the latest addition to the cast of Walt Disney Pictures‘ Mary Poppins Returns, the all-new sequel to 1964’s Mary Poppins. A five-time Tony Award winner and the recipient of an honorary Academy Award and three Academy Award nominations, Angela Lansbury will play the Balloon Lady, a character from PL Travers’ original children’s books.
Walt Disney Pictures has found a helmer for it’s upcoming live-action take on Mulan. Whale Rider and McFarland, USA director Niki Caro will be taking on the project. Mulan now marks what is only the second time a female director has taken on a project budgeted higher than $100 million at The Walt Disney Studios. In the studio’s first film to hit that budget, Selma‘s Ava DuVernay is taking on Disney’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time. That project is now filming and targeting an April 6, 2018 release.
Scott Derrickson had previously helmed low-budget hits (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister) and major blockbusters (The Day the Earth Stood Still remake), but on Marvel’s Doctor Strange, he faced the challenge of making a tentpole film with both spiritual and psychedelic overtones that also had to tie into the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. He managed to pull it off with aplomb, telling a fairly conventional hero’s journey narrative within a very unconventional framework buoyed by ILM’s stunning hallucinogenic effects.
Now that Doctor Strange is out on Digital HD, and will be available on Blu-ray February 28, Derrickson took the time to provide Disney This Week with an exclusive 1-on-1 interview where we discuss how he got the gig, the Oscar-nominated effects, the original comic’s artist Steve Ditko and making a secular-friendly spiritual movie.
ComingSoon.net: You’re working at Marvel, so you had the best resources at your disposal, but can you elaborate just a little bit on the role a director like you plays in the effects process on a Marvel tentpole?
Scott Derrickson: Yeah, I mean, I think part of the reason I got hired for the job was because I had very clear ideas about the visual effects in the movie and what they should and shouldn’t do. I really wanted the movie to reflect the comics. I wanted it to not do what visual effects tentpole movies pretty much always do, which is create screen stimulus through mass destruction. You know, I wanted to see a movie of this size that’s a big tentpole movie use visual effects creatively for something more awe inspiring and wondrous. And my mantra going in was that I wanted every visual effects sequence in the movie to be the weirdest scene in any other movie, and for all of them to be different and all of them to be unique. And I had pretty clear ideas early on about what I wanted those things to be. I knew I wanted a scene at the end where they were fighting in forward time, but the city was undestroyed in reverse time, sort of playing on the Marvel trope of always tearing up the city at the end. I wanted to un-destroy one. I actually wrote and storyboarded the whole astral fight before I was hired for the job, to get something from the comics that could really be done well in the movie and something that hadn’t been done in a movie before.
CS: You actually drew it yourself?
Derrickson: Yeah, I do my own storyboards. I’m a terrible drawer, but I do stick-figure storyboards, and then I hire somebody to draw, too, and explain to them how the frames work, and then they do better sketches to circulate for the crew. And usually, for the big visual effects sequences, those storyboards then go into the pre-vis and I work with a pre-vis artist to turn them into motion. It was also a matter of pushing everybody involved, especially the production designer, Charlie Wood, the visual effects designer and the vendors, just really pushing everybody to let go of mental handcuffs and to try to discover ideas and come up with ideas of things that we hadn’t seen before. And everybody got very inspired by that possibility. And we generated some 3,000 pieces of concept art, I believe, and some of those were inspired by the comics. Some of them were inspired by ideas that I had, some of them were just straight out of Charlie Wood or some of the artists that work for him. And we would just take what were the most intriguing and powerful images, and then I would try to work those into visual sequences. It was always in the end, an attempt to make a mind trip action movie, you know, how to make an action movie with scenes that are all trippy and weird. That was sort of the goal.
CS: I was going to ask what some of the most interesting reactions you heard or read about the film were since its release, but I guess I wanted to know specifically, did the stoner community dig the movie the way you hoped they might?
Derrickson: (Laughs) Well, yeah, I was really thrilled when I saw the Rotten Tomatoes rating and we were in the 90’s on the movie. And I sort of checked my ego and I didn’t read any of the reviews, so I don’t know. I got a lot of Twitter responses of people tweeting me their chemically-induced euphoric states from the movie, so yeah. I think that’s a statement that they enjoyed it.
CS: Thumbs way up.
Derrickson: Yes, all 18 thumbs, way up.
CS: You’ve had both the worst experience of a hands-on studio, and now, a really positive experience with the famously hands-on Marvel. I think there are other studios right now struggling to capture the same formula for sort of long-form integrated entertainment that Marvel has. As a creative, sort of on the front lines, what advice would you give to studios for how to nurture and interact with talent in a high stakes franchise environment?
Derrickson: I think that what separates Marvel from any studio that I’ve worked for is their unsurpassed love for movies. They love movies more than anything else. I mean, Walt Disney said, “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money so we can make more movies.” And that has definitely Kevin Feige as well. And he is a true film nerd. You know, he loves movies more than anything and grew up with them and lived and breathed them and still does. He watches them all the time. And everything that I do as a filmmaker comes out of a passion for cinema itself, and that’s true of Marvel and that’s true of all the producers over there. And you can not fake that and you can’t create a program or imitate that in any way effectively. You just have to put people in those top positions of power who have that kind of love for cinema. That’s a starting point. But they’re also all artists. I mean, it’s just kind of an amazing place. You know, and that Kevin’s a producer and Louis D’Esposito and Victoria Alonso, who reps post over there, my producer, Stephen Broussard, all four of those people have their fingerprints on the movie.
So I would call them artists before I’d call them studio executives, for sure, and even producers. So the collaborative process becomes one where I checked my ego at the door. I’d go into work with these other artists, who check their egos at the door. And nobody wants to be right. Nobody wants to get their way. Everybody wants the best idea. You’re all looking for the best ideas all the time. And they’re looking to me as the director to be the visionary, to come in with a vision and to execute the movie in a way that only I could, that they hired me to do that and they fully support that, which in this case, I wanted to make a mind-trip action movie about one man overcoming himself through a kind of spiritual work. And they just never backed away from that.
They supported all the weirdness that I wanted in there. They supported all the metaphysical ideas, the kind of spirituality of personal growth that is written in the movie. They supported all that from day one all the way through and grandly assisted me in the process of making the movie, usually by sniffing out things that were not working as well as they should, you know? I think that’s Kevin’s greatest genius. He has an ability to see what’s not working or what’s not going to work. He has that ability at a level that I’ve not encountered with anyone else in Hollywood, director or producer. Part of it, I think, is that he’s a proper genius. You know, that helps. That’s a long-handed answer, but it’s my own. I’ve got nothing to gain by saying that now that the movie’s done, but it was a really revelatory experience, and creatively so fulfilling for the reasons that I’m giving.
CS: Your film, especially the scenes in the dark dimension, preserved the visual spirit of the early Steve Ditko drawings. Ditko is such an enigmatic figure, and you kept such fidelity to his material. I’m wondering if you gained any kind of insight into him, either as an artist or as a man?
Derrickson: You know, he’s like J.D. Salinger, the man. Nobody really knows much about him or what he’s doing and he’s very, very well hidden and keeps to himself. But I think that I was drawn to the “Doctor Strange” comics from early on because of my love for the character and who that character was, and because of the fantastical qualities in the stories and those amazing visuals. But then, when you start putting those comics in front of your eyes again as a filmmaker, you’re really awestruck by the qualities of some of those Ditko panels. I mean, there are panels in “Doctor Strange” comics that are absolutely proper progressive art, state of the art, and still are mind-blowing to look at. And I just started to feel more and more, as I was prepping the movie, that we were going to fail if we didn’t not only represent that, but try to represent as much of it as possible and represent the spirit of it and directly put some of that energy up on the screen. I have a 1971 blacklight poster over my desk. And that blacklight look of that poster inspired the whole ending with the dark dimension. It’s all so innovative and it was for sure the single strongest source from the entire climax of the movie. I mean, everybody working on the movie was familiar with those comics and knew that that was the bar we were trying to clear.
CS: One of the things that I think is great about you, that I think we got into more depth with the last time I talked to you is that you’re like a real deal student of theology. As a dirty heathen non-believer, I’m always sort of very vigilant when a movie about spirituality starts to proselytize, but I never felt that during “Doctor Strange.” How did you work to sort of keep the movie secular-accessible?
Derrickson: Well, I think that there are certain spiritual truths that are undeniable. There are certain spiritual truths about getting past oneself, the dangers and blindness that egocentrism puts into one’s life, how trauma becomes the thing that can unlock us from ourselves and set us on a path to growth, and that that growth ultimately comes through a kind of surrender. You know, these are things that I think are undeniable. They’re true for everyone, regardless of what you believe. It is just the nature of the world and it is the nature of human life. And there are things that all decent religions tap into and teach. And I say decent meaning, as opposed to religions that are hellbent on genocide or something.
CS: Right. Or selfishness.
Derrickson: But I think that that was what it was, you know? And part of it is the movie is Hindu influenced in the original comics, you know, put me back to reading Buddhist and Hindu literature. And it just gave me that deep appreciation again for the Daoist truths that are across other religions. When you tap into those and tell stories of those, it’s inoffensive because everybody feels the power of the undeniable truth, and that one doesn’t need to subscribe to a particular religion to abide by those truths or tap into those truths. It’s almost like the modern world has unfortunately pitted mysticism and religion against science. I think everybody instinctively knows, well, there’s a third way of thinking about things, you know, where there’s a kind of spirituality that we all innately understand, and whether you’re a believer or atheist.
CS: Yes, exactly.
Derrickson: And the voracity of science to something is absolutely undeniable, if we’re not crazy or brainwashed. And so, trying to make a movie that exists in that upper third sphere was always the goal. It was always where my mindset was. The idea of proselytizing is a horror to me. Nobody wants to be preached to in a movie, even if they’re ideas that you agree with. Nothing’s worse than feeling like a filmmaker’s telling you what to think.
CS: Right. Well, I agree, and I thank you for that, sir. I really appreciated it.
Derrickson: Yeah, thank you. And I appreciate that.
CS: And it was great talking to you!
Derrickson: Great. Thanks so much. That was a great interview.
Lucasfilm and Disney XD have released a clip and images from the next episode of Star Wars Rebels, “Legacy of Mandalore,” which premieres on Saturday, February 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Disney XD. You can view the clip below and more images at the link above!
The Disney Channel has announced today that the upcoming Tangled The Series has officially been renewed for a second season ahead of its first season premiere.
“Tangled is my all-time favorite Disney animated film,” said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide. “And with the blessing of the filmmakers, executive producer Chris Sonnenburg has crafted a terrific new series that embraces the rich characters, the brilliant storytelling and the memorable music of the original. Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi have effortlessly reprised their roles as Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, and the legendary songwriters Alan Menken and Glenn Slater have graced the series with a host of memorable songs. This promises to be an absolute treat for kids and families around the world.”
Tangled The Series is set to premiere on Friday, March 24 (7:30 p.m. EDT).
Disney Parks has announced today that the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! will officially open at Disney California Adventure on May 27, just weeks after the release of the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The date will also mark the beginning of the “Summer of Heroes,” which will run from May 27 through September 10 and will launch new, year-round experiences. More details at the link above!
Fan Art of the Week
As a testament to the good Doctor Strange, we are posting this mind-bending piece of fan art by Yin Yuming from Singapore. Check out more of his great art in his gallery by clicking here!
This Week in Disney History
This week in 1950 RKO Radio Pictures released Disney’s animated classic Cinderella to theaters. The film cost $2.2 million to make.
This week Disney released The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes in 1970, King of the Grizzlies in 1970, Herbie Rides Again in 1974, No Deposit, No Return in 1976, Dragonslayer in 1982, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey in 1993, Blank Check in 1994, Heavyweights in 1995, That Darn Cat in 1997, My Favorite Martian in 1999, The Tigger Movie in 2000, Recess: School’s Out in 2001, The Jungle Book 2 in 2003, Eight Below in 2006 and Bridge to Terabithia in 2007.
Each week, we highlight an underappreciated Disney classic! This week we’re going deep vault for a two-part made-for-TV movie titled The Mystery in Dracula’s Castle, originally broadcast on “The Wonderful World of Disney” in January of 1973. It concerns a single mother (Mariette Hartley) and her two young boys (Johnny Whitaker & Scott C. Kolden) spending the summer at a rented seaside cottage. The older boy is trying to make a Super 8 Dracula movie, but his younger brother stumbles across a mystery involving stolen jewels. It’s the perfect archetypal 70’s YA adventure, a sort of “Hardy Boys” meets J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, and includes a great villainous turn from Clu Gulager (Return of the Living Dead). This is a very difficult-to-find film that is so rare it has yet to be issued on Digital HD, Blu-ray, DVD or even VHS! Hopefully the folks at Disney can reissue it someday, but in the meantime we did manage to come across the second part on YouTube, as taped off The Disney Channel. Enjoy!