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Comic-Con ’11: Robert Rodriguez Talks Acquiring ‘Heavy Metal’ Rights, ‘Sin City 2’ & More

Comic-Con '11: Robert Rodriguez Talks Acquiring 'Heavy Metal' Rights, 'Sin City 2' & More

10 Things Learned About Both Projects Including Plans For ‘Fire & Ice’ Adaptation & More ‘MacheteFilms

We’re a month or so away from prolific, renegade Texan genre filmmaker Robert Rodriguez‘s latest picture, “Spy Kids 4D: All The Time In The World,” but it’s safe to say that only the parents, Rodriguez obsessives and hardcore Jessica Alba stalkers among us will be checking that one out: it’s not for us, and that’s just fine. But in Hall H of Comic-Con yesterday, Rodriguez announced a number of projects that should appeal much more to his usual target audience.

The list goes: not one, but two “Machete” sequels, “Machete Kills” and “Machete Kills Again” (the former shooting imminently, as soon as the script is ready, the latter set in space), a “Sin City” sequel, an eventual live-action remake of Frank Frazetta‘s “Fire And Ice,” and, more surprisingly, an adaptation of cult sci-fi comic “Heavy Metal,” which David Fincher had long been trying to make as an animated feature at Paramount, with names like James Cameron and Zack Snyder also on board, until the rights lapsed. We reported on all these yesterday, but Rodriguez dropped a few more tidbits during the panel hosted by his new company, Quick Draw. After the jump, ten key things we learned from the helmer.

1. ‘Sin City 2′ Is Just Tweaking Its Script, And Will Hopefully Shoot Later In The Year
Rodriguez indicated that despite all of the discussions he’s had about making a follow-up to his 2005 adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel series, a recent effort is the closest he’s come to actually putting that project into motion. “There is a scenario where Frank has written a script for Sin City 2,” he revealed. “It’s called ‘A Dame to Kill For‘ because we’re kind of following the structure of the first movie where there’s three stories and a wraparound. So one of the stories will be ‘A Dame To Kill For,’ and another one will be a new story that Frank’s written. It’s called ‘The Long, Bad Night,’ so you get an idea of what you’re in store for. The script is terrific; we’re still working on it, but there is a scenario where it could be shot as early as this year. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen this year.” He also indicated that he’d love to shoot the film in 3D: “I had an idea for doing that in 3D in a way it hasn’t been used before, which I think would translate really well to that format.”

During the press rounds after his Comic-Con panel, Rodriguez elaborated more. “[We’ll shoot] as soon as the script is ready. If the script was ready right now, we’d be casting right now. We’re doing another pass on the script and as soon as it’s ready, we can actually shoot that. So it’s really, the holdup isn’t anything but, again, story and characters. People have waited so long we’ve got to make sure it’s really great and it’s the best version we can do.”

2. The Director Isn’t Worried About “Sin City 2” Scheduling For His Expansive, Starry Cast: They Don’t Necessarily Have To Be In The Same Room Together
“I’m pretty sure that if we just call them and say, ‘We’re making a “Sin City 2″…’ (Laughs) Just because they all loved that experience and I doubt any of them would be, ‘Eh’…The way I shoot movies, Mickey Rourke and Rutger Hauer go at each other in one scene. I shot them eight months apart because Rutger wasn’t available. Whenever they’re available, they show up. So for that movie in particular, scheduling is never a problem.”

3. In Some Ways, He Intends Quick Draw to Be A Return To The Old Studio System, Shooting Multiple Projects Simultaneously
“I’ve done that before. We were shooting a children’s film and when noon came, kids would go home and they’d bring in the ‘Sin City’ [cast] and film. Some of those scenes overlapped. You would totally be shooting at the same time with something else and if you have all those projects going, you’re like a little mini studio system. The old studio system was pretty efficient. You would have an actor be on one set and you’d say, ‘Hey, go over there. You’re doing that other movie this week.’ And they would go off and make another film,” Rodriguez explained. “So a mini version of that. You want to keep it small because that high-tech guerilla filmmaking is always where I like to live. You move very quickly and you have a lot of high technology to compete with the bigger movies. But it’s very much by the seat of your pants and having to use creativity over money to solve problems. I think that makes the project better.”

4. Rodriguez Plans To Pick Up The Baton Where David Fincher Left Off With “Heavy Metal.”
Several years ago, David Fincher announced that he was planning to mount a new production of “Heavy Metal,” a sequel/next installment in the movie series based on the popular fantasy anthology magazine. Like Rodriguez and del Toro, he got preoccupied with other projects (and Paramount held the project hostage while he raced to finish ‘Benjamin Button‘), during which time, according to Rodriguez, the rights lapsed. “I was surprised that the rights were available,” he said. “‘Heavy Metal’ was one of the reasons I was interested in ‘Barbarella‘ a few years back. I thought that might be my only chance to make a Heavy Metal-type movie. It always inspired me, and I just love the idea of artists from all over the world coming to show their best work. There’s something about the idea of Heavy Metal – it’s bigger than what anyone has ever been able to do with it, whether in the movie or even the magazine.”

Rodriguez brought out “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” creator Kevin Eastman, who currently owns the rights, and the two of them recalled how a number of major directors offered to participate in the project during Fincher’s time on it. That wealth of volunteers prompted Rodriguez to launch a venture with the website Badass Digest where fans can submit their ideas for one of the stories in ‘Heavy Metal.’ “On ‘Sin City,’ that format worked pretty well – we had three stories and a wraparound. [But] back when we did ‘Grindhouse‘ I had a contest that worked out well to have other people make their fake trailers. I want everybody to have an opportunity to work on it. So we put up a website, because what would ‘Heavy Metal’ be without its fans? Participate – if you have an idea. Do it for yourself. Do it for ‘Heavy Metal.’ Because you might win.”

5. Rodriguez Will Bring In Other Filmmakers For His “Heavy Metal” Adaptation, With A Structure Not Unlike “Sin City”
“I’d probably direct one of the stories and maybe a wraparound, but utilize other filmmakers as well. That was always the great thing about ‘Heavy Metal.’ Even the magazine or just the idea of it. It was many people coming together,” he said. “So focus it on a few stories but have different people work on it so they could bring all their talent and their vision and just really bring it out, because that’s what it really has to be. We’re going to do them much quicker because we don’t have the red tape of going through the studio. That’s what usually stalls these projects and why they take so long. It takes away the control of a filmmaker who’s got the idea and says ‘I want to start shooting this tomorrow.’ This cuts all that out.”

6. Look For Rodriguez And Quentin Tarantino To Team Up Again Some Time Around 2016…
“You know we usually work together, pretty much like clockwork, every ten years. We did “From Dusk Till Dawn” and ten years later “Grindhouse“. I’m sure probably we’ll get an itch to do something else together. We’re already talking about stuff. I know right now he’s got his eyes set on a couple of things. I’m busy, but yeah, around every ten years. A couple more years.”

7. “Machete” Will Kill Again… And Again.
2010’s “Machete” was a modest hit for the filmmaker, and its over-the-top tone was perfectly punctuated by not one, but two trailers at the end of the film – which Rodriguez confirmed would be made, starting relatively soon. “Both of the sequels have been greenlit,” he said. “The second one for sure, we’re going right into, which is called ‘Machete Kills.’ The third one is going to be called ‘Machete Kills Again.’ I can’t wait to do part 3, because that is a space opera; there are space babes and a machete-shaped lightsaber. I think we are at least going to shoot the trailer and have it at the beginning of ‘Machete 2.’ I may even put it out before the movie comes out for free just so you guys can see it, because it’s so good. It’s Machete kills again – in space! To see a badass Mexican in space, it’s really rare so we thought it was a new frontier.”

8. Robert Rodriguez Isn’t Happy With 3D – Because There Aren’t Enough Ds.
Taking credit for the boon in 3D presentation, Robert Rodriguez said that he was trying to add even more “dimensionality” to the moviegoing experience. “There’s a reason you have to wear funny glasses in the theater these days,” he observed. “It’s because eight years ago I made ‘Spy Kids 3’ in 3D, and I brought 3D back to the theaters. I believe in the extra added value of coming to the movies, so we thought, if we do another ‘Spy Kids,’ we have to do it in 4D. Kids are going to go crazy for this. It’s in “aromascope.” This stuff smells amazing, and there will be eight instances throughout the movie where a number will flash, and whatever the character is smelling, you smell that. So when they’re having bacon, you’ll have the fresh smell of bacon. It’s pretty entertaining, and even if you’re not a kid you’re going to be pretty into this idea.”

9. After Going Rogue In Austin With Troublemaker, His Personal Studio, He’s Diversifying To Make It Easier To Make Movies.
Rodriguez says that he’s always been a self-starter, and found a new venture that will allow him to keep focused on making his films, and less on funding them. “What I’ve lacked is this other studio, Quick Draw, which is more of a production company – but I think it’s kind of the way of the future,” he explained. “If you want to be cutting edge, the way you do it is by controlling the property a lot more. It’s a film production entity where we can develop, produce and finance and greenlight our own movies, much like a studio would do. Filmmakers can bring you a story idea, and to develop it, finance it, all of that stuff is taken care of, and you can just worry about making the best movie. It just puts the focus on the movies and media projects themselves.”

10. Rodriguez Wants To Create A Two-pronged Celebration Of Iconic Fantasy Artist Frank Frazetta.
Working with Billy Frazetta, the head of Frazetta Properties, Rodriguez plans to open a museum in Austin, TX, which will showcase the artwork of Frank Frazetta. He hopes to have the museum ready in time for next year’s South By Southwest Film and Music Festival. “We want you to walk into it as if you’re walking in to one of his paintings,” he said. Additionally, the first film project under his creative partnership with Frazetta properties will be a remake of “Fire And Ice,” a 1986 film based on the work of Frank Frazetta which he thought missed an opportunity by not basing its design directly on the artist’s work. “I got the rights, and we’re going to do Frank Frazetta’s “Fire And Ice,” and the whole idea is to make it using the technology I used for ‘Sin City,’ because I want it to be as if you stepped into one of his paintings.” Enlisting only three artists, Rodriguez showed a three-minute clip of still images and concept artwork from the forthcoming film, which will be the first in a series of projects that celebrate Frazetta’s work. “’Death Dealer‘ will be after that. But my goal is to make the first of many definitive Frank Frazetta films that really showcase his work and his sensibilities.”
— Reporting by Jeff Otto & Todd Gilchrist

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