Q&A: 'Green Lantern' Producer Donald De Line on the 'Nervous' Rush to Finish Film
With the release date two and a half months away, about fifty percent of the summer tentpole's shots are being worked on.
"Green Lantern" producer Donald De Line sat smack dab in the middle of the Esplanade Ballroom in San Francisco's Moscone Center during the unveiling of the tentpole's first new footage after months of radio silence from Warner Bros., which is releasing the movie June 17.
The occasion, coupled with a "Green Lantern" presentation the day earlier at Las Vegas' Cinemacon, was big enough that Ryan Reynolds flew from South Africa, where he is shooting Safe House, in order to help sell to fans, who had been growing skeptical about the DC Comics-based super hero movie.
The footage impressed, with De Line being able to feel the cheer from his perch. THR's Heat Vision caught up with soon after the presentation.
Heat Vision: How important was the panel?
Donald De Line: It was very important. We've had a very tight post- production schedule. We have over 1500 visual effects shots in this movie, which is a lot. And we have to convert to 3D. That pushes your schedule up even tighter so they can go through this painstaking conversion process. You want to do it with the right quality so you need a lot of lead time. Those things conspired to make what seemed like a decent amount of post feel like incredibly pressured.
This was important because when we went to Comic-Con last summer, we were still shooting. We didn't have any shots or any visual effects to show. This was very important because we finally had something to put in front of people. We showed people what we have finished with visual effects, though only 80 percent was technically finished. Some of it is still work-in-progress.
Heat Vision: So in the overall process of Green Lantern, where are you?
De Line: We have 50 percent of our shots left to finish.
Heat Vision: So you guys are working 24 hours a day?
De Line: Seven days a week, oh yeah. They have all the visual effects houses working on our stuff, Sony Imageworks chief one among them. They have people seven days a week, non-stop.
Heat Vision: Was the silence making you been nervous at all?
De Line: Of course. Any time you make a movie, you¹re nervous about every detail. And Warners is a great studio in terms of marketing and they know how to do it. But my frustration, and the nervous-making part of it, was that we literally didn¹t have enough of the finished effects footage to deliver to them so they could get materials out in front. But that's changing finally. We'll be on Thor with the new trailer. It was really thrilling to be in the room and feel it with the fans.
Heat Vision: The strength of the footage is that it lays out the movie is, or wants to be ...
De Line: We know what it is, but we haven't been able to show anyone, so of course there¹s all kinds of consternation and people talking about this and that, and making all kids of theories. So it¹s exciting to say, "Okay, here's what we've been working on."
Heat Vision: The footage seems to open up the comic book movie in a way that I don¹t think has been done before.
De Line: That's what's been exciting to begin with. You have this superhero genre and you get to take it into space, go to the center of the universe where you have all these alien cultures represented. You get the best of superhero-meets-space opera, in a way. And you get to bring both of those elements together and it¹s the kind of thing that I think that makes it different.
In a world that is becoming increasingly populated with superhero movies, and everyone is going "Gosh, there's a lot this summer" and "Is there room for all of us?" we all can say we offer something different. Thor stands on his own with one kind of world, we are an entirely different world. And Captain America is another kind of world. So I say were all very distinct.
Heat Vision: The Green Lantern movie is to lay the foundation for a whole line of superhero movies from Warners. Will there be an connections to the future Superman movie or the Justice League movie?
De Line: We didn¹t do that but there some little references to what could be outcroppings from the Green Lantern Corps, because as you know, the Green Lantern Corps went on to become a lot of different offshoots and have different aspects. And we're already working on s sequel script so we have a cool story idea that we think will go in a direction they don't expect.
Heat Vision: Geoff Johns [the CCO of DC Entertainment] has been all over this movie. How did you guys work with him?
De Line: Working with Geoff Johns and the DC group, it's been fantastic. He is one of the nicest most straightforward people. He made it a total pleasure. He was our touchstone for all things Green Lantern and DC. He read every draft of the script and he gave really good feedback. When we had a conflict of "Gee, the movie has to stand on its own but stay true to the canon," Geoff was always our touchstone. We would say, "We want to do this, does this cross a line for you, is it true to the piece?" And he was our bellwether. He knew we had to be creative and go in certain ways, things would work in a movie but may not work in a comic book, and he would help to think of new ways. He was great.
Heat Vision: So where are you guys in the process now?
De Line: We're deep in it. We're doing sound meetings on Sunday with the mixers, because a huge part of the movie is sound. We're asking questions like "What does energy sound like?" That's a whole other element besides visual that you have to now get really into. The stuff today wasn't all final mixed sound. There was temp tracks in there.
And music. James Newton Howard has written beautiful stuff. We start scoring next Thursday.