July 26, 2004

John Landis Interview

Director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London), spoke to The Onion A/V Club about his history, the present state of film studios and the surprising effects of films.

O: A studio is likely to give a $200 million movie a bigger push, though, so more people are likely to see it. Does that matter to you?

JL: Marketing does have a lot to do with the success of a film. But even more so, and especially since home video, I've learned that a movie has a life of its own. A movie goes out there, and it exists, and it continues. I'm always fascinated by what movie people bring up when they approach me. Animal House is interesting, in the U.S., because of how many people—including President Bush and Senator Kerry—say it's their favorite movie. You know that George W. Bush thinks he's a Delta. You know that they think they're the good guys. It's just fascinating to me. That picture really spoke to people, and it continues to speak to people. I also get Blues Brothers a lot, especially in Asia and Europe. I get ¡Three Amigos!, I get Trading Places, I get "Thriller" a lot around the world. But you never know what's going to touch somebody. I was in the Czech Republic, and this major Czech critic came up to me and said, "Oh, Mr. Landis, I've always wanted to meet you. You made my favorite film." And it turned out to be Spies Like Us, which is this completely silly Cold War comedy that I made. It turns out that during the Soviet occupation of the Czech Republic, it was pretty severe. They were crushed, and there were very strict rules. This critic, his father had built a satellite dish, and he stole the movie from Rupert Murdoch's Sky Channel, and basically had a bootleg tape of Spies Like Us. He told me that people used to come and sit in the garage and watch Spies Like Us, like these secretive meetings. I said, "What about Spies was so enthralling?" And he said, "You were making fun of the Russians and the Americans." They just found it so liberating and exciting, that it was mocking what was oppressing them. It had never occurred to me that Spies Like Us would be inspiring to people. So, you know, you make a movie, and it goes out there and has a life of its own.

Link(The Onion)

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