In his latest project, he directsthe new movie DraftDay (@draftdaymovie), which opens April 11. The movie is about the general manager of the #ClevelandBrowns, who is trying to build his team his way under tremendous pressure.
It's a football Moneyball. Reitman was nice enough to give me about 15 minutes to talk about ... everything.
Are you a football fan? I've always been a fan, particulary since I moved to Santa Barbara 20 years ago and joined this group of betting guys. We get together on Sunday mornings, and we have tropies and stuff. It made me more interested.
I had a great friend out here who is a Texan and he knows Jerry Jones. He introduced us. I talked to him about this movie. It was an influence, but I head read the script beforehand.
What attracted to you about a movie about the business of football rather than the game of football? The script was unique. You have this owner who is under pressure but he puts the bulk of that pressure on (the GM, played by Kevin Costner) Sonny Weaver.
What is the harder business - pro football or making a living in Hollywood? It is interesting you bring that up because they are analogous to each other. They are based on success and intolerant of failure. It used to be you had a few hits you could hang in there though some failures; that is not available any more. That is really tough. It's fascinating to see someone getting drafted in the first round and getting cut in the first season, or traded off so fast. It's not so much cut-throat as it is failure.
What makes a film successful? It's a combination of a great story that is marketable. In films, if it's a marketable idea that is the single most important thing that will lead to success. It is clear on Twins that Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger as twins is something that is so much fun about it you don’t have to advertise it any more people are going to show up. And there are some films that have to earn it out and do it by word of mouth.
Do you know immediately know when you've made a good movie that will work? No. It does not necessarily translate into business. People don't know until they see it; it's, 'Can you get them to see it?' That’s the trick.
Do you have a favorite movie you've made? There are some that work better than the others that make you more proud. They are your children. You spend so much time with it. I love Dave, which did well, not as well as Ghostbusters, Stripes or Twins. I'm telling you today, however well we do with Draft Day, it’s a movie I am proud of and happy that I made. I know I did things it in that were special.
Was getting the NFL to sign off on this crucial? Absolutely. To be at the NFL Draft with my own crew on my own audio channel and move them around and getting to work with all the team reps who show up wearing the same clothes the night before so you put your actors and getting to work with real football people was great.
Any player you are a fan of you wanted to involve? Jim Brown; he was in it at the end and that was something I wanted. It's a Cleveland movie and he is the best player in Cleveland's history. And he's an actor; it's something I wanted to add and I thought it would be fun.
And the scene with Ray Lewis at the draft where he talks about getting drafted with the owner of the Browns. It underscores the theme of the movie - they are guesssing.
When did you reach that point in your career where you felt secure knowing not every film you made is going to be a big hit? I do have that comfort. This movie works - the only issue is will it work in the market place? My work as a director is strong, but when studios look for a director they want to know if he can pull off a story.
Is directing a star such as Costner any harder than directing an actor less established? You treat them with the respect they are due and use their knowledge. If someone like Costner has an idea, listen to it. He is a sports nut. I look at them as a resrouce rather to be afraid of them. Costner is an Academy Award-winning director.
Take advantage of a movie stars' baggage. If he says it, it has more weight.
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