Exclusive – Tron: Legacy Director Joe Kosinski

Joe Kosinski talks about developing a Tron sequel as well as his remake of The Black Hole.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

I’ve been checking in with Joe Kosinski all the way through Tron: Legacy. From the first Comic-Con press conference to the second, to the theatrical release I’ve been asking the director of Legacy a question at a time. Now I got to go one on one with him personally for the DVD and 3-D Blu-Ray release of Tron Legacy.

CraveOnline: I’m happy the Blu-ray has the Imax version. What determined when the frame opens up to the full Imax?

Joe Kosinski: First I did it just for the big action set pieces, so Recognizer capture, disc wars, light cycles, light jets, portal. Then at the end I decided to open up the solar sailer frames as well because I just felt like that scene between Sam and Flynn, there was so much just environment between the kind of aurora borealis we had going in the sky and the landscape that was two miles below. It felt like a nice sequence to open up and just immerse yourself in the world of Tron. So I think we did 43 minutes of open frame.

CraveOnline: Is it determined by when you have an actual set or when you’re primarily on green screen?

Joe Kosinski: No, it’s just stuff I felt like I framed for. There were a lot of scenes I framed specifically for 2.39:1, especially a lot of more dramatic scenes like scenes in the safe house and the throne room. That stuff I didn’t want to open up, and in the end I think it’s a nice balance. In Imax, it’s fun the first time to see that recognizer to have it really fill your vision. I think it’s cool they included that on the Blu-ray. Hopefully some day you can have a version where we can choose between the two. I think you can do that with Blu-ray branching now, you could pick either version if you wanted to keep it scope all the way or open it up.

CraveOnline: Why would you ever not want it to open up?

Joe Kosinski: Some people have 2.39:1 televisions which are kind of cool, or some people have 2.39:1 screening rooms. There are some theaters that are 2.39:1 so you actually get a bigger image if you keep it at 2.39:1 the whole time but it’s personal preferences. Some people may be distracted by the switching aspect ratios.

CraveOnline: What extras were you excited to include on the DVD and Blu-ray?

Joe Kosinski: Well, I was just excited that I got to take another crack at the movie itself. In January I went back to Skywalker and I remixed the whole movie. So I was able to fix about 110 audio notes of things. We went back and fixed all that stuff in the mix which I was really happy about because it was driving me crazy seeing it in the theater. So that’s all been done for the Blu-ray which is great, but in terms of bonus features, that Second Screen app is something that’s really new, something I haven’t seen before. For people who are really interested in how these kind of movies are made, it’s cool to be able to go into that level of detail, down to the storyboards and see where the idea starts and how it evolves and becomes what you see on screen.

CraveOnline: How do you feel about them watching another screen while your movie is going on?

Joe Kosinski: Well, I think it’s not something you’re going to do the first time, but it’s cool the third or fourth time to appreciate the amount of work that goes into pulling off even one shot. Especially in a movie like this where everything has to be created beforehand. There is no location you can go to to shoot this movie. Everything has to be conceived from the ground up. I think when you see the second screen stuff, you start to appreciate the amount of work that goes into something like this.

CraveOnline: Do you find that people have connected with the philosophical themes of Tron: Legacy, like the dangers of perfection?

Joe Kosinski: Some people have. I think you have to be in the right frame of mind. It’s a funny thing about this movie. I don't think people went into this movie expecting to have to be open to those kind of ideas and themes. It’s a movie that kind of falls in the cracks between genres in a way. It’s not a straightforward popcorn movie. It does have some bigger ideas there which I think some people dismissed as techno jargon mumbo jumbo, not realizing that every term we talk about, whether it’s genetic algorithms or quantum teleportation, is actually a concept that we researched and is tied directly to the story of this movie. It’s good every once in a while when I hear someone really talk about the relationship between Flynn and Clu and understand what we were really going for there.

CraveOnline: Or Quorra, the idea of programs spontaneously creating life.

Joe Kosinski: Digital life forms, it’s a really cool field of research that is really out there. They’ve got digital bacteria now existing inside computers that are growing and mutating. It’s a real fascinating thing and we were able to bring that concept to light with her character.

CraveOnline: What happened with Oblivion?

Joe Kosinski: Oblivion is a story I wrote about five years ago and developed as a feature. We tried to make it work at Disney but ultimately it fell outside the envelope of what a Disney movie is right now. Even with Tron we were pushing the envelope and Oblivion is outside of that which is totally fine so we’re looking for the right home for it right now.

CraveOnline: Will that still be your next film or will it be something else?

Joe Kosinski: It’s looking that way. I’ve got Black Hole and the sequel to Tron in development at Disney so we’re developing both those projects in parallel and we’ll see which script comes together first.

CraveOnline: What are some of the cool ideas you couldn’t fit in Tron Legacy that you want to use in a sequel?

Joe Kosinski: Well, I just think that last scene of Legacy where we see Quorra and Sam, Quorra’s come out into the real world and that idea, the first two films have explored the idea of a human being crossing into the digital world but now at the end of our film we introduce the idea of a digital form coming out. That notion in itself is fascinating. You can imagine if we were able to take that further in the next film, what we might have in store.

CraveOnline: Would it maybe take place more in our world than in the system?

Joe Kosinski: I think so. I think to me that’s what starts to get interesting is you start thinking about that stuff existing in our world, what that could mean.

CraveOnline: How do those plans exist alongside the TV show that’s coming out?

Joe Kosinski: The TV show I’m not directly involved with but from what I understand, the events in that take place before Tron Legacy so it’s kind of a prequel to our movie and is really going to introduce a younger generation to this world.

CraveOnline: Is there a way to simplify the concepts for a younger audience?

Joe Kosinski: I don't know. I don't know what the storyline of the TV show is. I’m interested to see it myself. I doubt that they’ll lose that stuff. I think they’ll just work it in, not that kids can’t grasp that kind of stuff. In some ways kids are more open to those kind of concepts than we are when we get older. It’ll be interesting to see how they embrace that next generation.

CraveOnline: What did you learn from making your first film that will help you with Black Hole or Oblivion?

Joe Kosinski: Lots of great things. The challenges on these really complicated films are the same challenges you have on small simple independent movies. It’s all about story and character so that’s what we’ll focus on for the next year or two as we develop the script for those projects but overall it was an incredible experience. I learned so much and had a great time.

CraveOnline: What’s your vision for The Black Hole?

Joe Kosinski: For The Black Hole it really is a re-imagining. It’s not a sequel. We know so much more about black holes now than we did in the late 1970s and the incredible phenomena that surround them in terms of the warping of time and space. So we’ve got a really exciting concept. I’ve got a writer who I’m really excited about. Travis Beachem is writing the script right now. We’re going to preserve some of those iconic elements of The Black Hole from ’79, some of the most memorable characters or set pieces but it’s a completely new story and I think has a tremendous of potential.

CraveOnline: We must have a lot more footage of actual space in the last 30 years too.

Joe Kosinski: Oh yeah, if you just look at the images coming out of the Hubble telescope, it’s mind boggling what the potentials are. That’ll be a really interesting world to explore.

CraveOnline: What should Tron fans look for in second and third viewings of Legacy?

Joe Kosinski: I think the complexity of that relationship between Sam, Flynn and Clu, the notion of having two sons, a digital son and a real son, the notion of priorities being lost, the idea that Clu represents the man that Flynn was when he was 35 years old and how when Flynn is battling Clu, he’s really battling the man he used to be. Like you said, those notions of always wanting perfection and how the quest for perfection is inherently flawed and what’s really important in our lives are those imperfect human relationships that we have. Those are what are meant to be valued. Hopefully people are open to those kind of themes as they watch it the second time and listen a little more closely and hopefully really dig on those themes.

CraveOnline: What are some scenes where we should really keep an eye out for Easter eggs, now that we can freeze frame in HD?

Joe Kosinski: Let’s see. There is a hidden Mickey in there. Since our writers are from Lost, we hid the secret Lost numbers in the movie. There’s a lot of great stuff in the bedroom scene on the shelves and in Sam’s apartment and in Flynn’s secret lab. There’s old Tron stuff hidden all over the place. We had a lot of fun with that. People should look for CRS, the company from The Game, David Fincher’s movie, we hid that corporate logo in there for some reason. There’s a lot of stuff to look for.

CraveOnline: Are you happy with the 3D home version?

Joe Kosinski: I watched it through once and I was really impressed how it held up on the small screen. I think the contrast and the brightness level on home plasma is the ideal way to watch this.

CraveOnline: Small screen could still be 50-70 inches.

Joe Kosinski: Yeah, I know. It makes me want to upgrade at home.


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