Director Joseph Kosinski Talks about TRON LEGACY

     January 20, 2010


MTV News recently sat down with Joseph Kosinski, director of Tron Legacy, the highly anticipated sequel (that’s sequel, not remake) to Disney’s 1982 cult classic, Tron. The first film starred Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, a software engineer who is digitized and imprisoned in a computer mainframe by an evil computer program and compelled, along with a number of other programs, to do battle with this evil program and its minions for control of the computer system. The film was considered quite groundbreaking for its use of computer graphics to simulate a completely digital environment.

Tron Legacy will take place about 30 years later and focus on Flynn’s son and his voyage into the land of Tron in search of his missing father. It’ll star Garrett Hedlund (Friday Night Lights, Four Brothers) and Olivia Wilde (TV’s House) and will see Jeff Bridges reprise his role from the first film along with the original Tron himself, Bruce Boxleitner. The film is being shot in 3D.

In the interview, first-time director Kosinski, who is still hard at work on the film, talks about the technology he’s been using, the new story and how Tron stars Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner factor into things, and working with techno/electro band Daft Punk on the score. Hit the jump for some of the highlights. Tron Legacy is currently slated for a December 17, 2010 release date.

Normally, I’m pretty wary of re-makes/boots/imaginings, especially when they involve beloved classics. However, I’m getting a good vibe from this one, stemming mainly from the involvement of Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner. It really seems like Joseph Kosinski and co. are gearing up to do something that translates the property into the next generation without leaving the original idea in the dust. Moreover, in an age where reboots are popping up before the original has even hit DVD shelves, it’s refreshing to see one that’s entirely justified. Even disregarding the 3D factor, there have been immense leaps forward in CG technology since 1982 and, given that Tron is all about the CG, it makes perfect sense for Disney to breathe life back into this franchise now.

Here’s the interview:

Tron_Legacy_movie_image_1.jpgOn the technology used:

Our approach is not like “Avatar,” which I think is 3-D from the first shot to the last. Ours is sort of a “Wizard of Oz” approach. Ninety-eight percent of the 3-D is in the world of “Tron.” The 3-D really starts once we get into the Tron world.

It’s a combination of technologies that Zemeckis has been using in terms of the completely digital motion-capture of a character and for the live-action camera system. We used a camera developed by James Cameron’s company. We used a newer generation of camera than the one used on “Avatar.” They built it specifically for us.

We did not shoot anything with an IMAX camera, because it uses film, and since we were shooting in 3-D, we used two digital cameras. That being said, we are doing an IMAX version. What I am considering doing now is finishing four or five sections of the film in a tall format – not letterbox – and in an IMAX theater, the black bars at the top and bottom of the frame will disappear and it will become a full-screen sequence, which should be really cool. I think IMAX will be the way to see this movie.

On the story and the involvement of the original stars:

The focus was always to serve the story we are telling. To include Bruce Boxleitner is not at all a cameo or stunt casting. He is integral to the story we’re trying to tell, which is why he’s in it. We’ve taken the events of the first movie as historical facts. In our story, Kevin Flynn emerged from his first experience as CEO of ENCOM and actually released the Tron video game based on his experiences in the first movie. ENCOM has become the most innovative, most successful, most forward-thinking digital company in the world as of 1989. There are fun references to parts of the first film. Sam Flynn [Garrett Hedlund], in searching for his father, has to retrace his steps and comes upon clues and places that we visited in the first film, like Flynn’s Arcade. Even in the world of Tron itself, a lot of vehicles and sequences have evolved. We’ll get to see how the disc game has changed, how the light cycle battle has changed. We get to see the new version of these iconic sequences. Things have gotten bigger and a bit out of control.

Jeff is playing two characters. He’s playing Kevin Flynn, the character from the original film, and he’s playing Clu, the avatar that Kevin Flynn created in the 1980s. I’d say he’s Clu 2. There was a Clu in the first film who looked like Jeff but was very simple in terms of his abilities. He’s very stiff. Clu 2 is a second incarnation of Kevin’s avatar. He doesn’t only look like Jeff, but he can think like him too. So it’s a whole new level of artificial intelligence.

Tron_Legacy_movie_poster.jpgOn getting Daft Punk to do the score:

I’m a huge electronic-music fan. This is a film where there was a lot of interest from different electronic bands that I follow to work on the film. I felt it was important, just as the first film was so forward-thinking visually and Wendy Carlos’ music was so innovative, I felt we had to do the same thing here. So rather than going with a traditional film composer, I wanted to try something fresh and different. I set up a meeting with Daft Punk. We met for pancakes at the 101 Coffee Shop in L.A. one morning. These guys take “Tron” very seriously. Obviously, “Tron” was a huge influence on them. It was almost like they were interviewing me to make sure that I was going to hold up to the “Tron” legacy. But the more we talked, we realized that creatively, we were totally synced up. I’ve been working on it with them for over a year and a half. I don’t know of a movie where you’re working on the soundtrack months before you start filming. The level of integration between the music and the film is incredibly strong.

Here’s the official synopsis for Tron Legacy:

TRON: LEGACY is a 3D high-tech adventure set in a digital world that’s unlike anything ever captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn (GARRETT HEDLUND), the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn (JEFF BRIDGES), looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the digital world of Tron where his father has been living for 25 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant Quorra (OLIVIA WILDE), father and son embark on a life-and-death journey of escape across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.

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