While making the press rounds for his forthcoming spy sequel "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol" (out this Friday in IMAX, next Wednesday in regular theaters), director Brad Bird, who had previously helmed animated films "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille," got quizzed by MTV's Rough Cut about the status of an 'Incredibles' sequel as well as his long-delayed earthquake drama "1906" (based on the historical novel by James Dalessandro).
When asked how far along he is in "The Incredibles" sequel process, it seems like he is working on it here and there. "I haven't got it all figured out yet," Bird said. A lot of the material he does have seems to have been stuff he wanted to include in the first film, which charted the personal growth of a family of superheroes and remains Pixar's richest, most sophisticated production to date. "I have a lot of ideas that I originally intended to be in the first movie. At a certain point you have to start throwing things out of the balloon to get it up in the air."
Bird always has great analogies — look for his amazing "every part of the buffalo" speech on "The Incredibles" DVD. "A lot of the things you throw out are really cool and would be good in a movie. So some of the things I would want to do were originally intended for 'Incredibles,' " Bird explained. He then made a comparison to another beloved Pixar franchise. "I love those characters and if I could make one that was to 'The Incredibles' what the 'Toy Story' sequels were to 'Toy Story,' I would do it."
MTV also posed the question of whether or not a future 'Incredibles' film would be a prequel or a traditional sequel. Bird says the latter. "I think that it would probably go forward from there," he said. However, when the glut of superhero sequels was brought up, Bird seemed visibly rankled. "What the world needs now is a new superhero sequel!" Bird scoffed. "It doesn't get that going. That wouldn't be the reason to do it anyway. The reason to do it would be a good story."
One of the interesting things about 'Incredibles' was that it was a superhero film but people got a kind of spy vibe from it so people could tell that I liked spy films and this was a great chance to do one. With "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol" being Bird's first live-action film, we wondered where this would put "1906," his historical drama that, back in 2008, was supposed to go forward as a co-production between Disney, Pixar, and Warner Bros. He explains to MTV's Rough Cut what happened.
"That's what I was working and suddenly a couple of years had gone by. And I thought, I want to stop thinking about a film and actually make one," Bird said. "But I'm still working on that idea." He dismisses reports that the budget had grown too large, making the studios nervous, saying that it all had to do with cracking the story. "It's all script. The Internet is not a very reliable place for information. There have been reports that it was budget. But it never even got that far," Bird said. " It wasn't like we licked the story problems and people looked at it and went, 'That's too expensive.' It's a very challenging story to get together and it has to be done carefully."
Bird then said what kind of scope he was talking about: "It's a miniseries that you want to get into a movie-sized box." MTV Rough Cut's Josh Horowitz asked if "Titanic" is the template to follow, in terms of a small story set against an epic background, but Bird seems more interested in the background. "It's trying to get personal stories in a large event that's historically based," Bird said about the movie centered around the famed San Francisco earthquake. "A lot of what's interesting about that project isn't the earthquake and fire — it's a lot of the stuff that was happening before that event. It's an amazingly particular, unique moment in that specific place at that specific time."
Something tells us that "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol" will be a big enough hit that Bird is going to be able to do whatever the hell he wants to do next, be it "1906" or "Incredibles 2" or something else that he hasn't clued us into. We can all see if he handles live action as deftly as he does animation when 'Ghost Protocol' opens on Friday in selected IMAX locations and next Wednesday everywhere else. Choose to accept it.