Jon Favreau Delves Into the World of Iron Man
Jon Favreau has been entertaining us for years on one side of the camera, and now he's doing so on the other side. After such memorable roles in "Rudy" "PCU" and Swingers which paved the way for bigger roles and also for his directing work, with his directorial debut Made along with Elf and Zathura. His latest film is his biggest yet, in the summer blockbuster Iron Man, the second-highest grossing film of the year, next to that The Dark Knight flick you might have heard of. Iron Man hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 30 and Favreau met with some members of the online press for an hour-long press conference about the film and the already-anticipated sequel which is slated for 2010. Here's what this talented actor and director had to say during this highly entertaining press conference.
At the beginning of the summer, people were excited about Iron Man, but it really hit a lot bigger than, I think, almost anybody expected. Were you surprised or did you know America needed Tony Stark?
Jon Favreau: I was surprised by everything. I was surprised that the reviews were so strong, then I was surprised it made so much money. Then I was surprised that The Dark Knight had better reviews...
Jon Favreau: ... and it made so much money. On the one hand, it was really an unexpected, serendipitous summer, for me, and on top of that it was surprising at how history had been made by this other movie as well. Oddly, when The Dark Knight finally came out, and it was received the way it was, it was such a relief for me because I really felt that we went from nobody expecting anything, to starting to expect something to this new phenomena where they report what they project, based on tracking, what your movie is gonna make. We could've made $20 or $30 million less than we opened to, had been a huge hit and perceived as a failure because we didn't live up to our expectations based on people who were reading that data. It wasn't that long ago where they didn't even report what the number 1 movie was. Now the top 10 box office is in USA Today and now it's hitting this point where this real inside tracking and projections and all the HSX and the Fantasy Mogul type sites, these people are getting out there with their blogs and these numbers start to seep out to all the mainstream Hollywood websites and it's becoming one big thing of information out there that you really can't escape from. First it was, 'Who the hell cares about Marvel's B-level heroes that they're marching out?' when they first announced the movie, to Comic-Con where it started to gain momentum a year later to this fever pitch, to this point where we were really scared we were going to disappoint, to the point where we outdid those expectations. We were there teetering on the brink and then The Dark Knight comes and makes history. All of the sudden, the relief of that spotlight moving off of us from the guard tower and now we have two years to really lay low and work on the movie without the type of scrutiny that we were feeling right in that moment after it came out.
Why do you think these superhero movies are so popular these days?
Jon Favreau: I think it is 9/11. I think that was a game-changer. I think people were looking for emotional simplicity, escapism, and if you look at it and think, there were superhero movies before Spider-Man, but Spider-Man was May of 2002 and it was the first way for us to get to those emotions. You couldn't say anything about politics, you couldn't say anything about war, people just didn't want to deal with it. But you put people in a costume, this is the good guy and this is the bad guy and you either set it in the fantasy world like "Lord of the Rings" or the Marvel universe and all of the sudden you allow people and kids to discover those emotions in a way where they're dealing with these emotions in a very escapist way. I think that has become more and more complex as we become more and more comfortable with where we are in the world now, seven years later, and you can have a movie like The Dark Knight where you start to deal with those things. You can show people on a battlefield in Afghanistan in Iron Man. There's a line you can't cross, but that line is moving and I'm glad I was able to hit the crest of the genre and I feel safe that now we have a built-in audience. I think we'll do well with our sequel but you wonder how that is going to change because whoever gets voted in, you have probably the most extreme contrasting figures that both political parties have to offer, compared to what we're currently experiencing. I think there's going to be an incredible transformation. I don't know what it's going to be, how the economy is going to affect that. I don't know what the politics are going to look like but a change is coming, one way or another. McCain has really been the guy who's been the outsider within that party so I think even if McCain wins, you're going to see incredible movement and incredible change within our political system and within our culture so I wonder, as a movie maker, how that's going to affect the audience, but I don't think it's something that's going to turn on a dime. Then again, I'm not going to be sitting in front of you for another two years until Iron Man 2 is coming out and I think by then the dust will have settled a little bit and it will be very interesting how to handle that.
How has Marvel's plan to have this sort of integrated movie universe been a game-changer for your plans, in going from a franchise to sort of a mega-franchise?
Jon Favreau: It's tough because at first it was like, 'Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we stuck the Captain America shield in the background. Wouldn't it be fun if we had Sam Jackson play Nick Fury like the Ultimate Avengers?' It was like, let's prove ourselves to our fans, so you do that. Now, between the Captain America shield, Nick Fury and after, what was going to be the after-the-credits scene became the final scene of The Incredible Hulk, that one was a big one for me. We're forming a team. It's clearly not the day after Iron Man ended, so where does it fit in the time continuum? I dont want to just ignore it or do what the comic books have done, as Marvel would say, 'It's an alternate universe.' They've gotten away with that one for a couple of decades. How do you make it all work within that world and I think The Incredible Hulk was successful in keeping a tone that did not seem inconsistent with our film. We definitely now have a lot of things. I come out of improv and in improv you go, 'OK, give me a suggestion of a place, give me a line of dialogue.' Here it's like, 'Give me three scenes that I have to incorporate into my next movie.' It is a challenge, but it's refreshing because it's not like we have a studio executive who couldn't care less. In this case you have Kevin Feige, who is like how are we gonna solve this puzzle? It's like a Rubix Cube to them as well. Just all that brainpower addressing things, we've come up with some interesting solutions. We have a pretty good game plan and there's conversations I've had with them about the Avengers too, because remember, with the Avengers, you're not just dealing with tech, you're dealing with inter-dimensional portals and all the shit that makes you jump the shark if you don't handle it right. We were very restrained in how we used our superheroism in our movie and we did that by keeping it all tech-based. Then The Incredible Hulk is still kind of tech-based, you have a guy frozen and with the super-soldier thing. Then you get into Thor and it's like, 'OK, how are we gonna do that?' How do we make that in the same world as our movie does and that's going to be the challenge moving forward.
You originally talked about having the Mandarin. The ten rings are obviously a reference to the Mandarin and you sort of have that in if you wanted to follow it.
Jon Favreau: The Mandarin is such a tricky character for us, because everywhere you turn it's a minefield. You get into that mystical, Asian, dark arts and inter-dimensional travel and all the rings that do the different things, psychic abilities and stuff. It's cool. It's like, 'What if we really make it authentic?' Then we see the trailer for The Mummy movie.
Jon Favreau: And they shot it in China and it's about as authentic as it's ever going to get. It's great for The Mummy, but where do you go with it? What are your rules and how do you stay consistent with that, because that's when people get desperate in looking for ways to up the ante so you start breaking your own rules and that's when the movie starts to lose its identity.
You had said, the other night when you did that commentary, that you had hinted that the Mandarin would possibly be in the third film.
Jon Favreau: Yeah. The Mandarin is still the guy, he's still the main guy, but we always remind ourselves that nobody likes the Emperor, compared to Darth Varder in "Star Wars". He's got the same lightning bolts. When the Emperor was this figure that you just saw obliquely, you're like, 'Shit, Darth Vader is bowing to someone? That guy must be really cool.' So, then as he talked more it was like, 'OK, enough.' Then in the Clone Wars cartoon, he's like the sidekick so it's all how you treat the person and that's how you inform what it is. So, for the Mandarin to have all that weight to him, it's all about using the narrative tricks to do it. A dude jumping around in robes shooting these rays that have powers that, really, if you take them literally, would throw off the balance of the whole universe, so how do you do it? How do you keep the whole thing together but yet fulfill the expectations of the books? So, we do have him and I think it's something that a little bit goes a long way. There are a lot of other characters and a lot of other countries that have become very interesting lately that fit very well into our universe. The Iron Man canon has become incredibly cogent and applicable once again?
How is the writing coming along?
Jon Favreau: The writing is really coming along quite well. We've got Justin Theroux working on it. He echoes Downeys taste a lot and he worked with him on Tropic Thunder. He's an excellent actor. I come at writing the same way he does. He brings a real sense of fun. He's never worked in the genre before and he has that great newcomer's enthusiasm that I think we still share. Then it's about, ok, here are the books, here's what we've got. Here's the story, so we're breaking story. Pages are coming out, but it's really more of a conversation than actual writing. The pages come but the pages are never really what they are going to be in the movie, until the day we start shooting.
There are two main components to the Iron Man mythology: the demon in the bottle story and being replaced, at some point, by Rhodey. Do you have to look at that and say 'OK, do we have to cram everything into one?'
Jon Favreau: Yeah. There's always the sense that we should save something for another movie, but I think there's a way to wade into it. If it's done right, you're not going to have to turn on a dime. In Spider-Man, he seems to be dealing with different issues in each film. It's very modular. Ours, we wanted to sort of stretch it out, more like three chapters of the same story. There was a sense, even though I know they shot Lord of the Rings and reshoots, there was an underlying movement of Aragorn becoming king. You watch the first movie or read the first book, you're like, 'Who's this mysterious guy, this Han Solo type character?' As you add more detail to him, he becomes less interesting, for me, but yet consistent in the story and then you feel like you're being taken on a journey. I really like long-form storytelling. I really love television... I mean, not all television, but I really love certain TV shows. The ones that I like, I really really like, even more than movies because you're able to tell stories, it's not like a haiku poem where you're telling a story in an hour and a half. You have a long time. I really like Heroes, the first season of Heroes. I'll watch a thing back-to-back, just get a boxed set and just watch the whole deal. In certain times in Twin Peaks and even in certain times in Lost, I was lost. It was like, 'Where are we going? Do they know where it's going?' It's very compelling but in the beginning, I felt like they didn't know where they were going and certainly Twin Peaks was like that. It was like, 'You're making this stuff up as you go along. I know more about this stuff than you do.'
Jon Favreau: Then you see a show like Heroes where it all comes together at the end, it feels like you've been rewarded for paying attention this whole time through. I think the cable shows have that sense, whether it be The Sopranos or Weeds or even Californication, there's a sense of using a much larger thing and you have very smart audiences that have tremendous capacity to remember things and have complex storytelling. You see it more in TV series and in video games. Movies are kind of what they are. It's like a rock and roll song. You have your thing, your bridge and your end. You've got to fit that format and it's very populace and very accessible to everybody. How do you keep making rock and roll songs but how do you put it all together with other movies and make it a larger experience for people who are paying attention, but not so complex where if you're not paying attention, you're not going to have fun. I found myself, in a lot of the sequels, not this last year, but the year before, of movies that I really liked, and not having gone back and watched the other ones, being a little bit lost as to what was going on. I'm a movie maker and a pretty smart audience member and I just don't have that attention span, but I want to figure out how to get a better version on that going, while still upping the ante with how much you're putting on the screen, humor and dialogue and living up to what people would expect from the last one.
In the first film, you end up with these two guys punching each other with cars and it's a very street-level brawl. Are you looking, in the sequel, to transcend that and go bigger?
Jon Favreau: I am, I am. A lot of that, truth be told, came from us being very ambitious of what we were going to accomplish with the amount of money we had. So, we went ahead with the plan of shooting as much practically as we can, which I'm on board for because I like that with the Stan Winston suit and the way it's designed, and let's see what we can accomplish with it. The Mark I, we got a lot accomplished with. I'd say 90% of what you see in there is the suit, with a little bit of wire removal, but a lot of that was practical and certainly it was all augmentation. By the time we got to the Mark II, you're doing a lot of flying and we're handing it off even more and the suit they built was a great reference for ILM. But then when we got into the stuff with him fighting, with the real suit, it just looked terrible. It looked like Power Rangers. There was always the money for the real suit to be replaced. They always had it to the side and we finished on time and on budget so we had money left over to do that. The problem is, even though you're using a CG suit, the plates and the action are still based on what somebody was going to do on the ground. It's sort of a mixed blessing. One on hand, it's sort of a bummer because we would've liked to have more of the flying, and we did have one sequence where they went up into space. The good news is it was successful and people liked it because of the characters and the emotion and, ultimately, what the whole of the film was. It left us a lot of room to improve upon it for next time around, which is another challenge is how do you outdo yourself? You have to go further and it's so nice to succeed with humble beginnings, as far as the action goes, and now I've learned a lot more. The last thing we shot, the reshoots, was the sequence where the hostages were being taken and they came out of the shelters. I think we found the personality in the sense of humor in the action and I found a way to be smart and clever about that.
One of the secrets of the first one's success was the casting of Robert. How much collaboration are you going to be doing with him in developing the sequels?
Jon Favreau: I was at his house yesterday. He's getting ready to go do Sherlock Holmes, he's leaving Sunday. He went to Japan briefly to promote this movie there. Clearly, we met Justin through him. He really thought the world of him from that process, and there was a lot of writing going on and stuff there too. Robert was very collaborative on the set of writing and making it, and part of my gig were to not just stand on his mark, but to bring enough of his reality so that it seems more interesting and has more dimension. He's been very involved. His star has only risen and his leverage has only gotten greater and now he's not the guy where, 'Please let me screen test,' he's the guy who's being offered every movie in town.
In looking down the line at these sequels, are you logistically concerned? You've got huge stars and huge characters and will that get in the way if they all appear and start sharing screen time?
Jon Favreau: That's sort of the danger, isn't it. Forget about creatively, just from the perspective of finances. Somehow they make "Ocean's Eleven", so clearly there are business models. I think it's more about if people are going to be enthusiastic and if it's a movie they're going to be proud of. Truth is that most stars of that level would love to be in a movie where they're not in every day on the call sheet and they're not the only one carrying the burden for the press junket. For me, I get a kick out of this. I like it, but Robert, now that he's working his ass off because of his success... we just finished going around the world for three weeks and it was, to me, very difficult, but also, when it's a novelty, it's almost like you just won a game show. It's like that's what they would give away on The Price Is Right.
Jon Favreau: It's a world tour, you will fly on a private jets with movie stars, meet the main people of every country and eat at the best restaurants and have security details with you in Mexico and be taken to the private tour of the coliseum and then going to the premiere on the red carpet after that. Cameras going off in your face everywhere, and everyone giving you shit. And then when I walk away from Gwenyth and Robert, they chase Gwenyth and Robert and I get to be with my wife in the hotel room in the robe.
Jon Favreau: It's really quite wonderful, but it just drains everything out of you and now I'm good for two years and then I'll do it again and it'll be fun and maybe it'll get boring at a certain point, but not yet. But Robert gets off it and boom, now he's off promoting Tropic Thunder and then he's going to be shooting Sherlock Holmes and then he'll be promoting something else. It's like Cameron Diaz said, 'They don't pay me to do the movies. They pay me to do the press junkets.' So, it's very very difficult on the guy. The worst part is that everyone is just going so out of their way for you, and anyone would just jump at the chance and it seems like heaven and here you are being drained and complaining about something that anyone else would give their pinky for, so you don't feel justified in your frustration with it and then you really feel like there's no sympathy for you. You feel very lonely.
So you're coming back for 2 and I assume you're coming back for 3. You're going to have to spend maybe a decade in Tony Stark's world. As a filmmaker, are you ready to do ten years?
Jon Favreau: It's one day at a time. This next one is going to be good because this next one, I have, creatively, I've got a lot of room, they'll pay me well if this one does well, I know everybody and everybody can't wait to see it. As a fan of these types of films, not necessarily the genre completely, it's very hit or miss for me, but I'm definitely a part of the audience. If it's good, I'm there. But I've noticed that there is a pattern that the sequels are usually better than the first ones. It's been proven again with The Dark Knight. When you get into three's, it gets weird. It's really hit or miss, and four's as well, it's even harder. So, how do you avoid the mistakes of others? But I don't really have to go there yet. Now is the time where I know who this guy is, they trust me as a director, the studio is just as excited about this as I am and everybody's waiting to see what we do next. It's like when I was Eric the Clown on Seinfeld. There was a feeling on that set where you could do anything, say anything and everyone was waiting to see what would happen next and I got to live a week in that role. You felt like you were a part of this cultural phenomena. Well, here we are. Swingers was fun, but it came and went. Elf was fun, but it came and went. If you did sequels to those, it would feel like you're double-dipping and it gets worse. But this type of franchise it can get better because it's meant to be a franchise so you never feel like you're chasing it, so at this point we're good. Now, as far as three goes, you're scared and then they start offering you a lot of dough. The truth is every job I get, I feel like I have more dough then I ever thought I would have, so it's not like I don't have enough and I'm not competitive enough in a way where, 'I want a plane like him,' I'm just scared that I want to make sure my family stays together and I don't want to miss half a year of my kids life. I don't want to miss any moments and I don't want to feel like I'm hitting the traps that other people around me are hitting. That becomes a challenge because you want to do all this stuff. You want to go away and do this. There's temptation in every aspect of the world all around you, but, for the most art, they suck you in through the one thing you're most inclined to do, which is, you want to do this for a living. You lived on a futon and ate Ramen noodles for a year so you could have these opportunities, and now you're going to say no to them. But, if you say yes, you could lose something else that you're really grown to appreciate too, which is your life and the people around you that you love and your kids and half the people lose that in chasing a career. There's no real people to look at to show you how to handle that ride. For the third one, it's like, what are they asking of me, what is there left to say, what am I doing this for and then there's a lot of pressure on you to do it and I think it continues as it goes on. What's nice about this is, with the Avengers, you have other characters coming in and out and that's going to change the dynamic of it too and I think there is going to be more of a sense of fun because you get more playful with the thing. But, to answer your question, I would love to work for ten years on one successful, L.A.-based franchise with people that I really like and connect with, telling stories that, I think, have some social and emotional resonance but they're not so heavy-handed and they're not just about fun. I get to play with all the toys and do CG and building sets and costumes and all the stuff I would love reading about in Starlog, I get to do in meetings, and I don't think it's by accident that I ended up here. I worked hard and always knew this was something I would love to be. This is the perfect situation right now.
Can you give us an update about yourself and Governor Schwarzenegger trying to keep the production in Californnia?
Jon Favreau: It's very difficult because Arnold, as you know, was an actor and would shoot in L.A. He deferred some of his up-front pay in the last Terminator film that he was in to keep the production here, so I always felt that he was a guy committed to the same thing I was. I have in my contract now that I won't shoot outside of L.A. On Elf I had wanted to shoot here, never put it in writing and a couple of weeks before we started, they said, 'If you want the green light, you have to move to Canada.' I missed six months of my kids' life and it was really depressing. I loved the movie, but the experience of making it was very lonely. You come back and you wonder if you still have your family. It's very very debilitating and, unless you have someone with you that travels, but it's hard on them, and they can't have a career, and your kids can't go to school with continuity. I don't want to selfishly put them through that, just so I could see them for the half an hour that I'm actually awake and at home during the working day. So it's like, I'm in a position now to use my leverage to shoot at home. There are a few directors that do that. I know J.J. (Abrams) does it, Spielberg does it for the most part. You might shoot location, but you base it out of here. When the Governor was re-elected, I went down there because I always thought he would push through that legislation and nothing had happened. I went down there, I didn't know anybody. I shook his hand, talked to his people, got business cards and said, 'Hey, I want to get involved. What can I do to help?' 'Well, we tried it already, it got shut down, nobody wants to give a tax break for movies. They see it as you're kicking back money to these rich studios.' I'm like, the studios are still making the money. The studios aren't getting any of the money. It's not me, it's not the director, it's not the actors, we're still getting the money, but it's people that are in town. People that opened up a sandwich shop, the drycleaners, those people. 40 films, I think, are shooting in Michigan. Where'd they come from? They came from here. It seems very short-sighted because you're losing net income. Let's say you knock down the taxes a couple points. That might make the difference with travel and per diem and all that to keep us from moving Ugly Betty to New York, where they're giving a 35% break. The real savings might only be a few points, because you have to pay a lot more money to go there, and it's a lot easier. Once the movies were moving to New York, it was so ridiculous because it's so expensive. When we were shooting Elf in New York, it was more expensive to shoot there than it was here and we shot two weeks there. In Canada, it was cheaper yet. With the weak dollar, it makes sense to shoot in the States but we're losing business to other states. I applaud them for having tax breaks in other states. I just, selfishly, moved to Hollywood because this was a dream and this is the best people in the world, the biggest talent pool and you have great facilities, great studios, vendors, it's all built around here and to me it's like, Flint, Michigan. It was a boomtown and they never thought it could end, and it did. Unfortunately, because the economy is so bad now, the movie business has never been better and we're not moving to other countries, we're moving to other states. It just seems very short-sighted and I've been talking to the Governor and trying to get this budget past. Right now they're trying to pass the budget, so I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon, but I refuse to make a movie if it's not here, and if I get to the point where I can't make movies here, and if not I'll make television shows here and if not, I'll live off my 401K.
Some of us were at Stan Winston Studios yesterday and there was talk of the War Machine in the sequel. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
Jon Favreau: I want to do it. We're drawing War Machine, we're figuring it out, talking to Terrence (Howard), seeing if he can take some time out of his new life as a musician to be War Machine. I think Terrence and the character Rhoadey was smaller in the first movie than we had anticipated, but that's how it worked for the movie. That was the best way to tell the story, with that kind of origin story. We spend half the movie in the cave, but it does set the table very well for this character. War Machine is fun and, again, you look for ways to up the ante. It's tough to up the ante on the villain side, without going into strange territories, but what we can do is really have a lot of fun with our family, our main characters, and that includes myself. I expect to have a lot more to do in this one or I will walk. We have certainly Rhoadey, and Gwenyth. I mean, it's the best work I've ever seen her do, for my tastes. I know she's won Oscars and stuff, but for me, I thought she had great chemistry with Robert. Of course, Robert we'll see more of and then we'll see how that basic group of four people moves forward to the inevitable Avengers that's coming and how largely Mandarin looms in this next one. These are the types of things we're doing, but mostly from a perspective of, it's like sitting around making a mixed tape. Remember those? They've got the playlists now. You'd make a mixed tape for your friends and you'll say this will get the party going. I used to DJ. I actually just DJ'd Robert's son's party. Of course I like all the old rap stuff, all the things I wished I could DJ when I was younger. You know how people get Porsche's? I got turntables. My mid-life crisis.
Jon Favreau: It is like that, you want to get the party going. There's some feeling that if you have the mixed tape, and your friends say, 'Give me your mixed tape,' because the party's going good and you pop it in, there's a buzz I get off of that. I don't know if it's everybody, I think it's kind of a universal thing. Whether you're going into Comic-Con and showing footage or making a movie and putting it out there. That's why I love going to the Aero Theatre and doing the live commentary, talking to people, and Robert came by, on a lark. He went up on stage and talked, he loved it to. We go to the Arclight for the midnight shows and intro the shows. We loved it, we really did. The people were like, from the studio, 'Oh, that's very smart,' and we were like 'Yeah,' but when people didn't know who I was, I would go to "Rudy" and go to three shows in a row and just sit in the back and listen to people, listen to the crowd.
You talked earlier about long-form storytelling and television. Is that something you hope to do?
Jon Favreau: I'll end up doing it eventually.
Do you have a thought about what elements you'd prefer?
Jon Favreau: I don't know. It depends on what I'm curious about at the time. I would think it would be something about families and couples and raising kids, but I'm writing a script now called Couples, or Couples Retreat for Vince (Vaughn), so I'm exploring that, so it's whatever is interesting to me at that moment. I don't think I would want to do it just as... I mean, if there's people that I would love to collaborate with, that would be great and I would sort of shoot the pilot and be a little bit involved. That's one level of involvement and that's fine. That's usually how directors get involved with projects. I'm talking about really getting in there and writing all the scripts and overseeing the whole thing and not doing anything else. I just don't see that as available to me right now. I think eventually I will, because that's the way you... it's like Larry David. He never crosses the 405. He writes, he sits around, does a lot of work, but he's already made his mark, he's made his money and he's enjoying success in this but I think it was because he was just following his bliss. So I think, eventually, I'll do something small, L.A.-based where you could explore 13 or 22 episodes, maybe cable. I like animation too. That's an easier thing because it's like racing a snail. As long as the rabbit doesn't fall asleep, you feel like you'll get there. So, animation and stop-motion animation is very very compelling to me and I've been talking to the guys, Seth Green and those guys, about collaborating on something either for television or for film. I found that my biggest problem is overextending myself and I get a little logjammed and I just want to enjoy this moment and this time and not push myself too hard, and I haven't learned to do that yet.
You were very hands-on in reaching out to the fans, but at the same time there was a lot of stuff that was leaked. How will you change it this time around?
Jon Favreau: We're not. I think it worked out. The thing is we don't care if something leaks or if somebody knows something, you care if it hurts the movie. Marvel knows, if you're getting to the point where somebody is going to leak, you release a photo. Get a good, well-lit shot, as opposed to a cell-phone shot. You don't want to ruin the nature of it. Transformers was incredibly successful, but remember, early on, there were photos that were leaked out and people were like, 'What's this? This is what the movie is going to look like?' So you have to learn how to deal with the rhythms of the Internet, but I'll take it any day over people not caring and that's what drove us. That Comic-Con bootleg video was the first anybody ever saw of it, and it was fun. They couldn't quite make it out, and they were trying like hell to get it down. It just took them awhile. I'm like, 'Why are you even trying? It's a good thing.' They're like, 'No, no. We have to take it down.' So I said, 'OK, we'll put up a clean version,' and then eventually they put up a clean version on like the Apple site, but it wasn't nearly as fun as when you heard the crowd over the cell phones, so I know kind of what it is. I don't get disappointed and frustrated when it's just the nature of things. I'm more scared of what's going to happen with DVD revenue in five years. I just got Apple TV, so I see what's coming. It's a new world and that might undermine the whole business model. That's concerning about technology, but as far as the fans, I'm not worried about the fans. It's just a huge water cooler that everybody is talking around and with all this stuff, Twitter, and everybody with their little blogs and their conversations in real-time, I mean, people knew about Iron Man before the panel was out in Comic-Con, because people were out on their laptops. That is grass-roots, that's mobilizing. It's here to stay, embrace it, don't be scared of it or frustrated and try to stop it. It's like trying to stop the tide. I think I'm one of the few guys out there that really gets it. Zach (Snyder) does too, clearly he's getting something going with 300 and Watchmen but you can't just hide and say you're not going to do press if you're a director, not for this kind of movie. You're one of the guys, one of the stars. You've gotta be out there and gotta be promoting it and you should be happy that people are curious enough to ask you these kinds of stuff. Fortunately, I came from a background where I did have to do these things as an actor so it doesn't freak me out. I actually like it and I like to actually speak about something I'm actually having something to do with making and not just a character I'm playing. You know, the shit I kept in my pocket for my acting motivation.
With the worldwide success of the film, you obviously had a $140, $150 million budget with the first one. How has the budget talking changed and how has that changed the writing process? Also, are you thinking about IMAX?
Jon Favreau: I would love to do some IMAX stuff. I think thats going to be a game-changer. I would love to do some of it on IMAX, for IMAX. Its all a matter of dollars and cents for them. I'd also love to do 3-D. For this one, I would love to do 3-D, because, just think of the HUD. Just think of that virtual space and what that would be like. The layers and what you could get away with, what fun that could be. It also drives people to see it in the theater and makes that much more of an experience. It all comes down to how much does it cost, and what do they get for it and my leverage only goes so far with technical issues like that. That being said, as far as the budget goes, Fox's way of doing it has been always keeping the budget's the same. The above the line gets bigger and bigger because you have to get these people to come back, and you have to squeeze out what the movie is. I think if you look at the sequels to Fox superhero movies, you'll see that they're more cost-conscious as the series goes on. The other end of the spectrum was the Spider-Man series where, I've not read any reports of the third Spider-Man film that aren't in line with my understanding of it was, where they're trying to hide the money that they're spending because it can become such a sinkhole. Fortunately, that was an incredibly profitable film and it make sense and it made money and now they want to do two more. I'm not saying that they don't know what they're doing. Both companies clearly know how to make money, but they're two different approaches and I think both have their shortcomings. Ideally, we would love to find a way where, clearly, it costs you more money to keep everybody in, and as well it should. If they're a success, you should reward the people that have helped you get that success. If there are vendors and people you are going to for work, you should, ideally, they shouldn't have to prove themselves over and over again and they should get a fair price for their work. If there's new people that want to come on, you give them a chance and you pay them accordingly. The bottom line is, for the people going to the theaters, you have to reward them with something better than you did the last time around and it's very hard to do that with less money. The question is, do you just let it get out of control? I think you hit a point of diminishing return and certainly as a filmmaker, I don't mind working with constraints. It's greater efficiency because we double-paid for certain things. We shot certain things in the suit, and then we did it in CG and there's no reason to do both and hopefully I can avoid that in the future. This is Tony Stark's world. This is like James Bond. It's got to feel big and he's got to feel rich and he's got to feel real. That costs money and the action has to be more than what we had last time. So, Marvel has said to me that they're certainly not going to try and save money on this one, they're not going down the Fox road on this, and that's encouraging. How far they're going to go with it, look, if I was running the show, I wouldn't say that there's clearly an amount of money that they talk about amongst themselves. The good news is they're not hitting me with a budget, they're saying let's get the best script we can and then let's look at it. Everybody knows they're going to make another one of these and so it becomes more of a conversation so it's not like most films where it's like, 'You're not going to get your green light if you don't do this.' They clearly want to work with me, work with Robert, for 2010. It's a new experience, I haven't gone through this before but it worked out well last time. We made over $300 million, which doesn't seem to be an anomaly because The Dark Knight made over $500 million. There's clearly an audience for this type of movie and I think that's what makes them comfortable and I think the real winner is the fans so in supporting those movies, the fans have ensured they will have another crop of well-made sequels.
Iron Man hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 30, and Iron Man 2 will be back in theaters on April 30, 2010.
Dont't forget to also check out: Iron Man  [WS] [Ultimate Edition] [2 Discs] [O-Sleeve], Iron Man [Blu-ray]
Sources: Brian Gallagher
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