Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Interview with Alex Litvak, Part One

Alex Litvak has blown up this year. He and partner Michael Finch sold their spec script Medieval for $800,000 against $1.6 million, and followed it up by writing this summer’s big budget action sequel Predators. These projects have launched Litvak from unassuming studio executive to Hollywood big shot in no time flat, but fortunately for me he’s still willing to sit down for coffee at The Bourgeois Pig in Hollywood with little old me.
In person, Litvak’s Russian accent is slight but present, and he says he’s often mistaken for a New Yorker. He has a confident demeanor and refused to let me interrupt him to ask more questions until he was done talking, as if he would not allow anything to derail his point until he finished making it. He's also completely adorable and intimidating at the same time, if that's possible.
Litvak started out life in Moscow during the Cold War, but he still managed to find enough burned copies of great American films like the original Predator and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to inspire a love of movies from an early age. “I love John Hughes,” he said. “I didn’t go to an American high school, but everybody can relate to problems with your parents.”
By the time he was ready for college he had no question that movies were the thing, so he packed up and headed to LA.
After the usual classes and interning, Litvak found himself almost accidentally moving up the ladder as an executive. But after years of paying attention to someone else’s stories, Litvak realized that he had neglected his own true love of writing.
Enter Medieval. Medieval is an action script in the purest sense of the word. A Dirty Dozen of sorts, where each member of the group brings a different badass skill, and set during, well, medieval times. Yep. A period action piece that bends historical accuracy in favor of coolness, not much different a concept from the new Sherlock Holmes or Brotherhood of the Wolf, or a handful of scripts coming down the pike in its wake. The script made the Blacklist and sold to Regency on the quick, and is currently in production with McG pulling the strings.
Medieval has taken some heat from reviewers because of its wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am style, but that may just be the reason the script sold for so much money. The pace of the script, and of every other script Litvak writes, is blisteringly fast.
“I don’t want anyone to be bored,” he said. He credits Shane Black and William Goldman with inspiring his flippant, fun style because they never shy away from personality on the page. “Why not put personality there? You should.” Sometimes he admits he goes a little overboard, but that's just because he's having so much fun.
That personality and hard work is what eventually landed him and Finch the dream project of writing Predators. Back during his tenure as an executive, Litvak attempted to get a Predator sequel going. He had an idea of Predators fighting against each other in a battle royal on a global scale. Nobody was interested in his ideas at the time, but after the sale of Medieval he suddenly found himself with enough clout to pursue the project already being bandied about with Robert Rodriguez. Due to budget constraints, the planet-spanning battle royal was out and the version released starring Adrian Brody was in, but Litvak and Finch still managed to find a way to make their Predator on Predator fight happen.
As of this writing, Box Office Mojo lists Predators’ current worldwide take as $103,491,249, a definite success in a season where similar films have flopped left and right, and a fair bet for another sequel.
“Your name is forever in the pantheon of action icons,” he said with a smile.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Predators is beter than the first movie. When I´ve seen it, I said: it must be a Russian who wrote it. Unlike the first movies, this one has its soul. Thank you Alex.

    Vladimir, Belgium


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