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Exclusive Interview with Olivier Megaton, Director of Taken 3 Blockbuster
“影评只是让你的自尊心好过点,我才不在乎。” —— 独家专访《飓风营救3》导演利维尔·米加顿

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Forest Whitaker, Olivier Megaton und Liam Neeson

Before becoming one of the most bankable directors in the world, Olivier Megaton was a graffiti artist in a poor Parisian suburb. His name is a pseudonym he chose after discovering he was born on the same day, 20 years later, that an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. That bomb was only 16 kilotons (o.016 megatons), but the director’s impact on world cinema has been explosive indeed. Since 2011, Megaton has now directed six feature films, including Transporter 3, Columbiana, and Liam Neeson vehicle Taken 2. Megaton was in Beijing to promote Taken 3 when we spoke to him.

SHP+: How is promotion for Taken 3 going?

Megaton : The movie will be released tonight. I was in interviews the whole day yesterday and the day before. Today I will go to theaters to see how it’s going. It’s very interesting to go on the first day and see what’s happening at average screenings. China is the film’s last opening in the world. We released the movie everywhere else, beginning in the US, in January. We released the movie in 80 different countries, and on the first of January it was already in Hong Kong and Korea. They think they’re going to make USD 40 or 50 million here, and then we’ll be close to what we did with the previous one. It’s about 350 million box worldwide. It’s big, yeah, very big.

SHP+ : By opening this late, aren’t you worried that you’ll lose ticket sales to people watching the film online?

Megaton : I’ve been telling Europe that for two years and nobody was listening. They were saying we don’t know anything about the China market and so on. I told them I’m one hundred percent sure piracy is going to kill the film little by little because they can have the movie on the second of January just after the first screening because the first screens will be in Hong Kong. The internal networks are not controllable — you can’t do anything; they don’t have the resources to stop any leak. You’re going to be fucked up.

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SHP+ : Showing in more than 80 film markets worldwide, how do your movies play differently in different places?

Megaton : When you’re in England they like the fact that there’s a cop in the story and he’s endangering the main hero. They like very much the car chases and so on. When you’re in the US they like very much the emotional sequences. They found it was more mature than the prequel. In Europe and in France they like the fact that it’s different from the two previous films. Everybody’s finding something different. It’s a family topic. Before this series movies were about superheroes, super agents, but there’s no other movie like this that’s just talking about a family. He’s just a father, even if he has some skills, who wants to save his family.

Luc Besson has had serious issues with the MPA in his movies, especially in The Professional. It was the story of this guy, 45 years old, who fell in love with a girl of 12 years old. He had a lot of problems, had to recut the movie, they found it was insane. Every movie he’s producing now is under a big lens for them. They’re very tough with us. I understood this with Columbiana and Taken 3 that we have this special service from them. In Taken they were thinking because the girl was a minor, a teen, and she was to become a whore, it was a very bad for them. They couldn’t buy this. They were fuckers on this. It was a problem for a whole year. They recut the movie 11 times. Finally they had the visa and the movie was released. Everybody has to thank the MPA because I don’t think the movie would have done those numbers a year earlier.

Taken 3 is my fourth major release in the US so now they understand that we are aware of this market and taking care of blah blah blah. I just had one pass from the MPA and that was it.

Afterwards when I made Taken 2 we were trying to figure out why it was this huge success in the US. The story of Brian Mills made them feel they were close to this family. This is the thing we have in common — everyone in the world has a family. It’s a bit like Breaking Bad. When you watch the show, the guy is a chemistry teacher and he becomes the main dealer all over the US just to save his family. You can buy whatever if it’s to save your family.

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SHP+ : Does creating films for a global market change the way you make the films?

Megaton :  Unconsciously I’m doing this, but I don’t think about it when I’m doing the movie. When you read the first script, it had “Fuck” everywhere but we are not making the kind of movie where you need to have a fuck every page. I just removed too many things that would make trouble for me later. Another example, there’s torture at the beginning of Taken 3, a corkscrew, I said it’s not possible. They’re always very strict on torture. We found instead that an ex CIA agent could use waterboarding. After filming we found that the CIA had used waterboarding a lot in Guantanamo, so that caused problems anyway.

SHP+ : Taken 3 had a 48 million US budget. Could you ask for more? would it allow you do anything differently?

Megaton : In the producer’s mind when you make a lot of money, the movie after they want to make more money. So their first reflex is to make a cheaper movie that makes more money. They say ok we made this movie last time for 35 million so make the same for 30 million or 20 million. It’s the first thing they think. On Taken 2 we were for a long time the

record for box office in Europe, 376 million bucks profit worldwide. Lucy arrived at the end of the year last year and beat me. They want better but cheaper — it’s something very natural with producers and studios. The actors are asking for more money, all the agents are asking for more money, but you have less money to make a movie — it’s insane.

When I’m doing a movie I need to be sure of the results of the movie. The project may be good, I may like the script and the actors, but if the money’s not there, I prefer not to go.

We are French, working with a French crew so we’re fewer people, working faster. We have special skills to make that kind of movie. They push us because they know we can make movies for three or four times less money than in the US. That’s their way of thinking about the French touch.

SHP+ : Why do you think there’s such a chasm between critical success and commercial success in cinema today?

Megaton : I think it’s two different things. If you want to make money with a movie you just have to say goodbye to the critics. People in the middle of the US or France or Germany or China, they don’t care about critics and they are my audience. If I wanted to have good critiques I’d make something different. You can’t do it and have good reviews in a blockbuster like this. It’s impossible. It does not exist. And what for? For my ego? I’m pretty lucky. I’m from the Parisian suburbs. I was a graffiti artist, and I got here little by little. All my life I had to struggle and to fight against those people because I’m not from their world. I couldn’t speak like them when I was young. I couldn’t think like them and they were jealous because I was painting and making movies and succeeding little by little. I really don’t care. I’m 49 today and my entire life was like this. Believe me that it was always like this so it wasn’t an obstacle for anything. I just had faith in making movies and believed in my creation and that’s it. They don’t make movies, I make movies, so I know what my reality is and they don’t know what it is. I’m not playing in the same play ground.

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Olivier Megaton was a graffiti artist in a poor Parisian suburb.

SHP+ : JR is from the Parisian suburbs too. He’s popular, but not appreciated by a lot of art critics.

Megaton : I’m not pretentious, I’m not saying that I’m Kubrick, but when you read his critics they were always, always, always killing him. When you read the critics on 2001 and on Clockwork Orange it was awful, just personal attacks. Even a genius of the movie industry was just a scum bag in the trash. Critics just give some good things for your ego, that’s it. When you have to fight and struggle you don’t care because everything you have done is behind you and supports you and built what you are.

When you meet them they apologize about what they write, it’s the worst thing. I never apologize about anything. I make mistakes, I make mistakes. They say oh, well, you know, I thought about it later and I wasn’t hating the movie – I was in a bad mood. I say fuck you. Most of those people are frustrated about not doing my job. They went to movie schools that cost a lot of money to their parents or them and they’re just critics. I really don’t care, I really don’t care.

I love my job, I’m very lucky. All my friends from the suburb where I come from are dead or in prison, so I know where I come from and tell myself, you’re fucking lucky so you don’t care, you don’t care, I really don’t care.

SHP+: You’ve shot commercials in China before. What’s that like?

Megaton : I like it very much. I shot a car commercial with Nick Cage, and something for BNP, a French bank commercial. I’m working all over the world and I take my French crew with me because they’re very quick and efficient and when I arrived in China I worked with this Chinese crew and I found what I had with my French crew — very passionate, they wanted to learn, and they were working very fast. They are very close to their culture, even in the midst of a technology revolution. In France, even if we speak about our culture, and we’re proud about our history, they are the same. It’s something we have in common, French people and Chinese people.

 

 

在成为票房灵药的大导演之前,奥利维尔·米加顿是一名生活在巴黎贫穷郊区的涂鸦艺术家。他现在的名字是他自己改的,因为他发现他的生日与20年广岛原子弹爆炸的正好是同一天。这个炸弹有16万吨(0.016兆吨),米加顿现在在世界影坛上的影响已经无法用数字来衡量。 从2011年首次执导以来,他已经执导过的六部电影,而且都有很不俗的票房,其中包括《飓风营救2》、《致命黑兰》(Columbiana)、《玩命快递3》(Transporter 3)。不久前,米加顿为宣传新片《飓风营救3》,飓风地访问了北京,SHP+有幸在电影上映前与导演聊了一下他的新作。

>>> 《飓风营救3》的宣传进行得如何了?
电影将在今晚首映,我会溜到影院里看一下什么状况,看看观众的反应,在大众影院里做这样的事满有趣的。中国大陆是全球最后上映的一个地方。电影1月份已经在美国上了,接着在80个不同的国家上映。香港和韩国也是在1月1号上映的。发行估计片子在中国大陆的票房可以达到四到五千万美元,这样一来这部片的收益就可以与我们上一部的票房很接近了。上一部是3.5亿美元,这是一个很不错的数字。

>>> 在中国上映的时间这么晚,你不担心很多人已经在网上看了,影响了票房的收入?
我近两年就一直跟欧洲那边反映这个情况,但就是没有人在听。他们说我不懂中国市场。我告诉他们,我百分之百肯定盗版会一点点抹杀这部电影的票房,因为盗版在1月2号就可以有了,因为电影1号在香港上演。没人可以控制内部渠道,他们(发行)也根本没有足够的资源去阻止泄漏。最后肯定被搞得一坨屎。

>>> 影片在全球80多个国家上映,片子怎么在不同国家找到不同的卖点?
在英格兰,他们喜欢这个故事里有一个警察和男主角被人陷害,他们也很喜欢飞车追逐的场面。当美国,他们很喜欢情感戏。他们觉得故事比上一部更成熟。在欧洲和法国,他们就是喜欢这次的故事情节与前面两部都很不一样。每个人都能找到一些不同点。前面两部电影更像是个人英雄和超级特工题材,这次的故事则更偏向家庭主题。虽然男主角有不少特工技能,但他毕竟只是一个父亲,一个想拯救家人的男人。

吕克·贝松(也是本系列的编剧)的电影向来在MPA(美国电影协会)那边遇到大难题,特别是《这个杀手不太冷》,因为故事说的是一个45岁的杀手爱上一个12岁的女孩,变成亦父亦情人的故事。这种题材自然引来很多问题,他们不得不重新剪辑片子,简直是疯了。现在他监制的每部电影都几乎被MPA拿到放大镜下仔细地审视,非常地严格。像《致命黑兰》和《飓风营救3》这两电影,我们就遭遇受到了类似的“特殊服务”。像在《飓风营救1》里,因为片里有未成年的女孩变成了邹妓,这种情节MPA自然不买账。整整一年里被这个情节搞得一头烟。片子被重新剪过11次,最后终于拿到了“签证”,可以在美国上映。不过我想每个人都有要感谢MPA,因为早了一年时间上演,可能拿不到这么好的票房。

《飓风营救3》是我在美国发行的第四部大片。现在美国那边终于明白我们很看重他们的市场,所以我们受到了关照,等等等等。这次我在MPA那边一次就通过了。

在我们拍《飓风营救2》时,我们分析过它这部电影在美国成功的原因。我们发现主角布莱恩·米尔斯的家庭故事获得了美国人的认同感。有点像《致命毒师》(Breaking Bad),原本是个化学老师的男主角,为了拯救家庭才被被迫成为制毒的大毒枭。反正只要你是为了家人,你干啥都行。

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>>> 如果电影是为全球市场打造的,这样会改变你拍摄这部电影的方式吗?
虽然我自己不认为我在做电影时不会做什么改变,但潜意识我可能已经这样做了。如果你读过第一版的脚本,那里每一页都有字,但其实我们不需要拍一部“操这操那”的电影。我后来删了太多这种可能会我添麻烦的东西。再比如,电影里原来有用螺丝刀折磨人的场景,我一听这种情节就知道没戏。他们(MPA) 对酷刑这事很严格。我们后来又发现前中央情报局特工是允许用水刑的。拍完后,我们发现中情局在关塔那摩用过很多次的水刑,但无论如何,这些都会添麻烦。

>>> 《飓风营救3》的预算是4800万美元,你可以拿到更多的预算吗?如果有更多的预算,电影会拍得不一样吗?
在制片人的脑里通常是你上一部电影赚钱了,下一部电影就希望赚更多的钱。所以他们的第一反应通常是用更低的预算做一部更赚钱的电影。他们说如果我们上次用了3500万完成了电影,那么这次就用3000万或2000万拍同一个电影。《飓风营救2》在欧洲的冠军票房保持了很长的一段时间,全球的收益是3.76亿。直至到去年年底的《超体》(Lucy)才打破我的纪录。制片和电影公司当然想以最低的预算做更好的片子。但演员们开更高的片酬,所有的代理商也要更多的钱,拍片的钱就更少了简直是疯了。

我拍一部电影必须要确保电影的收效。光是一个好项目,或者光是因为我喜欢这个剧本或演员,但如果资金不到位,我还是宁愿不拍。

我是法国人,我用的也是法国团队。我们人不多,干起活也爽快。拍这类的电影我们有一定的特殊技巧,所以美国那边不断地催我们,因为他们知道我们可以以低于美国的三,四倍的成本完成电影。这就是本片的“法国特色”。

>>> 为什么获得商业上成功的电影与获得评论成功的电影有这么大的区别?
我认为这是两个不同的东西。如果你想做赚钱的电影,你就不要理会评论。无论美国、法国、德国或者在中国,不看媒体评论的人才是我的观众。如果我想要获得好的影评,我会拍不一样的东西。不过想在这类票房大片里拍出叫好又叫座的作品是不太可能的,甚至是不存在的。(评论)有个屁用?为了我的自尊心吗?我已经很幸运了,我来自巴黎郊区,我从前是一个涂鸦艺术家,我一点一滴地打拼到现在的地位。我一辈子都在拼搏,都要应付这些人(评论家),因为我不是他们世界的人。我年青时就不能跟他们谈到一块去,想法也不一样。我觉得我招他们嫉妒了,因为我靠画画和拍电影而慢慢地成功了。我现在真的不在乎,我今年49岁,我一辈子就是这样活过来的。我只要坚信我的电影和我的创作,就是这么简单。他们不用拍电影,是在我拍电影,所以我知道实际情况而他们不知道。我们根本不在同一平面上。

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成名前,奥利维尔·米加顿是一名生活在巴黎贫穷郊区的涂鸦艺术家

>>> JR(法国著名的街头艺术家)也是从巴黎的郊区来的。他很受欢迎,但同样没受到许多艺术评论家的赞赏。
我不会造作地把我自己比喻为库布里克(Stanley Kubrick),但是当你看到评论的时候,那些影评人永远,永远都是在批评他。你看一下他们当时对《2001太空漫游》和《发条橙子》的影评,实是太可怕了,简直是人身攻击。即使这样的电影天才(在影评人眼里)只是一个败类和垃圾。评论只是让自尊心好过一点。但当你要打拼与奋斗,你就不会在乎别人怎么,因为你所做的一切会成为动力并促成今天的你。

当你遇到他们时,他们会对他们写过的东西道歉,这是最讨厌的事。我从来没有感到有什么好抱歉的事,我做错了就是做错了。他们说,‘哦,好吧,你知道,我事后(刊登完评论后)想想,我其实不讨厌你的电影,不过我当时(写文章时)的心情不太好。’这时候我就会想说去你妈的。(他们)大部分人花了家里很多的钱去电影学校上学,到头来却干不了这个工作(导演),他们很沮丧,只能写写评论。我真的无所谓。

我热爱我的工作,我感到非常幸运。来自我那个地区的朋友们现在不是挂掉就是坐牢子了。我经常对自己说“我他妈的真是幸运,所以我不需要在乎,真的不需要。”

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奥利维尔·米加顿在上海拍广告。图片他与摄影师李晓雨在工作中。Olivier Megaton on the set of a commercial shoot with DOP Rain Li in Shanghai.

>>> 你以前在中国拍摄过广告,可以谈谈你的感受吗?
我非常喜欢在中国拍摄的经历。我与尼克凯奇 (Nicolas Cage)拍过汽车广告,还拍了一个法国银行BNP的广告。我到世界许多工作都会带上我的法国团队,因为他们做事很有效率。当我来到中国时,我在中国工作人员身上看到了我法国工作人员的特质——富有激情。中国人肯学习,效率很高。即使在谈技术的时候。中国人都注重文化,这一点跟法国人很像。当法国人谈到文化和历史的时候都特别自豪,这是中国人与法国人很相像的地方。

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