Exclusive: Producer Dan Lin on the Live Action/Animation TOM AND JERRY Movie and BONE by Jeff Smith

     December 21, 2009


Over the past few days I’ve been posting “7 Days with Producer Dan Lin”.  As I explained in the previous articles, I spoke at length with the Sherlock Holmes producer about not only his latest film, but everything he has in development.  Since the conversation ran so long, I’ve decided to break up the interview into many smaller parts.  I’ve already posted what he said about the Lego movie and Gangster Squad, as well as his thoughts on the Terminator Salvation ending and what’s up with future movies.  For today’s article, I’ve got him talking about the Tom and Jerry movie and the animated Bone movie – which is based on the comic by Jeff Smith.

Regarding Tom and Jerry, Lin says it’s going to be live action/animation hybrid and he compared it what was done on Alvin and the Chipmunks and Scooby-Doo.  He also said it would be a “different tone, obviously” with “CGI creations of the cat and the mouse.”

On Bone, Lin said Justin Monjo is writing the script and they already did a test with Animalogic (who did Happy Feet and Guardians of Ga’Hoole). He went on to say “it really looks like a mix of Shrek as far as the three Bone characters and their comedy, their Looney Tunes or Marx Brothers comedy set in a Lord of the Rings world. We’ve met with several directors and we hope to come to a director decision by January and Jeff Smith has been very intricately involved in the development process with us.”

Much more after the jump:

For those not familiar with Bone, I suggest reading this.  But the quick info is it was an independently published comic book series from 1991-2004.  Time Magazine called the series “as sweeping as the Lord of the Rings cycle, but much funnier.”

Bone_comic_book (2).jpgHere’s what Powells.com had on Bone:

The Bone adventures tell the story of a young bone boy, Fone Bone, and his two cousins, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, who are banned from their homeland of Boneville. When the cousins find themselves mysteriously trapped in a wonderful but often terrifying land filled with secrets and danger – and special new friendships – they are soon caught up in adventures beyond their wildest dreams. In Out From Boneville, the three Bone cousins are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert. One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley where they come face to face with…

What many fans came to love about Bone is the way the series mixed humor and adventure in a fantasy world.  While a movie based on the comic has been talked about for years, if they’ve produced a test with Animalogic, it sounds like this is the closest the project has been to actually getting made.

And with that…here’s the part of the interview on Tom and Jerry and Bone.  While Lin didn’t discuss the story for Tom and Jerry with me, in a Variety article from earlier this year, it was revealed the film would be “an origin story that reveals how Tom and Jerry first meet and form their rivalry before getting lost in Chicago and reluctantly working together during an arduous journey home.”

Look for more with Dan Lin tomorrow night.  I haven’t yet decided what part is next.  But I’m thinking his comments on Justice League and Suicide Squad


Collider: You’re attached also to Bone?

Dan Lin:  Yes

What’s the status of that?

Bone_comic_book (1).jpgDan Lin:  I love this project. You bring up all my favorite projects. The status of that is we’re…Justin Monjo an Australian writer is writing the script. I’m producing it with Animalogic, who did Happy Feet and Guardians of Ga’Hoole. They’ve done a test of what the movie will look like and it looks amazing. It really looks like a mix of Shrek as far as the three Bone characters and their comedy, their Looney Tunes or Marx Brothers comedy set in a Lord of the Rings world. Justin Monjo is writing the script. We’ve met with several directors and we hope to come to a director decision by January and Jeff Smith has been very intricately involved in the development process with us.

Zack Snyder is doing Guardians of Ga’Hoole.  Do you envision it in a similar look to what Zack is doing there?

Dan Lin:  No, it’s very, very different. I mean, the best way tonally again is Shrek meets Lord of the Rings. Very fantastical but between the Bone characters just a lot of comedy.

Bone_comic_book (3).jpgSince I’m not looking at IMDb, what else has….I forget the name of the writer you just said.

Dan Lin:  Justin Monjo, he’s an Australian writer.  We’re gearing it as an Australian production so he hasn’t written anything big that you may have known before.

When you have a project like that which a lot of people like that fits in very well at Comic-Con, is that nowadays almost easier to sell to the studio when you can say to them, we have a project we can sell at Comic-Con?

Dan Lin:  It depends on the title. Bone, honestly, is not because of the Comic Con crowd. It’s just that we loved the book and the studio loves the book. And in that case it’s a big seller as far as the Comic-Con world and it’s a cult favorite, but the fan base isn’t big enough when you look at other properties that justify the studio saying okay we’re going to buy it just because of the fan base or the brand name. I mean, it’s all well-known in genre fans and comic fans like you and me but it’s not well-known to the average person on the street. So if you and I were to go out to London right now and go in the street and ask them do you know Bone? Most likely people don’t know Bone. So we focus on really the story itself is what attracted the studio to buy it.

So you already have a take where you’re thinking about…

Dan Lin:  Very much so. We have a script and we’re talking to directors to come on and develop the next area.

Bone_comic_book.jpgHow much is the story that you’re doing based on original material from what Jeff did?

Dan Lin:  All of it. If anything, right now we’re discussing how many books should be in the first movie and if we do things right hopefully there’ll be multiple movies to tell. But right now there’s a discussion of do we use the first 3 books? Do we use the first 4 books of Bone? That’s the discussion but the source material is all from Jeff’s books.

So you’re thinking that for fans of the material sometime early next year we’re going to hear something either way?

Dan Lin:  Yes.  I’m thinking in first quarter of next year you’ll hear who’s the director of Bone and that’ll give you a sense of where we’re going.

Are you already thinking about a rating on this or is that still way too early?

Dan Lin:  It’s early but I would say somewhere between either PG or PG-13.

You’re listed for Tom and Jerry. I have to ask-what’s that? Obviously the cartoon but I mean…

Tom_and_Jerry_image.jpgDan Lin:  Yeah, it’s the cartoon. My kids love the show. It’s two things-my kids love the show, I love the show. It’s really the originator of cartoon violence.

Without a doubt.

Dan Lin:  And the way I view it is it’s almost like sibling rivalry. It’s the way my brothers and I fought growing up, Tom and Jerry fight. So, it’s a well-known show internationally as well because historically Tom and Jerry haven’t spoken a whole lot and so it translates well into other languages. But right now we’re working on a live action/animation hybrid of Tom and Jerry.

I’m trying to get my head around that one real quick. Live action/hybrid. I think Warner Brothers has done that with Michael Jordon for some movie in the past like Space Jam or…

Dan Lin:  Yeah, I would say certainly look-wise you can talk about Scooby-Doo. You can talk about Alvin. What I mean is CGI creations of the cat and the mouse.

I got it.

Dan Lin:  Different tone, obviously.

TOM AND JERRY The Chuck Jones Collection (4).jpgTom and Jerry, when you look back on it now it’s unbelievable the violence that they did on that cartoon. I mean, can you even explore that kind of violence in a PG movie?

Dan Lin:  Yeah, well I’ll know better through the filmmaking process. Some we’re trying to retain some of the original what we call “cartoon violence”. There’s no blood. There’s a lot of laughing involved and you’re amazed at what you can do with music. So we really want to retain the spirit of the original Tom and Jerry. We’ll see how that changes as we go through the filmmaking process and also the MPAA process.

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