A Chat with Jon Landau
When talking to Jon Landau one could only imagine him on the other end lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills. What type of man could do that? Well, someone like Landau. He's right off the heels of a a little film called Avatar. Apparently, quite a few people saw it. All kidding aside, Avatar came out of nowhere. Months before it's release it was just something the fanboys knew about it, now it's something everyone knows about. Avatar has finally hit blu-ray and while it's a bare bones release, it is still worth getting. The transfer and audio is as spectacular as you'd expect it to be. This is the type of film that blu-ray is made for and it shows. If you're a fan of Avatar, make sure to pick up a copy as soon as possible (it is now available on both DVD and Blu-ray.) Anyway, here's a very brief chat with Landau.
DVD Talk: I was talking to Tom Rothman back in May of last year where he seemed to be pretty annoyed by how much I was asking about Avatar. I kept asking about when we'd see footage and he wouldn't say. So, why did it take so long to kick off the marketing campaign?
Jon Landau: That's a better question for Fox (laughs). I think from their perspective they felt that this was a movie that you couldn't see in ten second bites. You needed to see a little bit more of it. I always said to people that it's not a movie you can talk about, but you gotta experience it. Since it was new and original, how do you introduce these blue characters with tails, a place with floating mountains, and creatures with six legs? I think Fox wanted to wait until they had enough material to show that all in context.
DVD Talk: After the success of Avatar a lot of films start to join the 3D bandwagon. The post-conversion process doesn't seem to be the right way to do it. What are your thoughts on all these tent pole films all the sudden being converted to 3D?
Jon Landau: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head. I think that they're not doing it right and I think it's something that you can do right. Conversion is an artistic process and not a technical process. Trying to slam it into seven weeks making it a technical process you just can't do it justice. Now, if you wanna take a year to do it then you can do it right. To me, you should look to do it with library titles. You should look to do it with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, E.T., and other movies that I think could be phenomenal that way. If you're gonna shoot a movie today in color would you shoot it in black and white then colorize it? Of course not. The answer should be the same 3D.
DVD Talk: But you do think post-conversion can be done right?
Jon Landau: Absolutely. We've done test ourselves on Titanic. We wanna do that in 3D, but we're doing it slowly. We're taking our time. We're testing four or five different companies and we may split up the movie giving them out to companies that could handle certain scenes better. It's just like when you're picking special effects guys. You pick the right players.
DVD Talk: I think it's pretty cool you guys are doing Titanic in 3D, but would you ever considering converting a few more of Cameron's films in 3D? His films are spectacles and could lend themselves to that format.
Jon Landau: You know, I think we would. If the opportunity presents itself we would love to do that. I think we'll do it one at a time.
DVD Talk: Obviously on a film like this there's a lot of stakes involved. What's the atmosphere like on set knowing how much is going into a film like this?
Jon Landau: Oh, you think about it everyday (laughs). You think about it everyday. That pushes us. We know the stakes and we wanna deliver the goods.
DVD Talk: When it comes to the blu-ray transfer how involved is Cameron when it comes to the transfer and the features?
Jon Landau: Jim is one-hundred percent involved. Jim spent five days with our color timer from the film just color timing for the home entertainment release. He went into a room they set up especially for him. It had a variety of displays from plasmas to LCD's just so he could color time for that format. Most people don't spend too long on DVD encoding, but we spent five weeks doing it. It was a very interactive process. On this first disc there's nothing, because we wanted to get the highest possible presentation.
DVD Talk: What can people look forward to special feature wise on the next release of Avatar?
Jon Landau: I think we'll have a few of the deleted scenes, we'll have a making of documentary that's truly a standalone documentary, and we'll have a lot of stuff.
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