David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith have joined forces for KatzSmith Productions and have a number of cool projects in the works. They recently sat down with EW to discuss some of those projects. Grahame-Smith has written both Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, both of which are being turned into feature films. He recently co-wrote the script for Dark Shadows for Tim Burton, which stars Johnny Depp. Katzenberg is the son of DreamWorks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg. He has produced such reality shows as Survivor, and recently produced MTV’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger and Awkward.
Here is what Katzenberg had to say about their vision for their projects:
“We like to take ordinary stories, the kind that have already been told, and turn them on their ears. We’re not the guys making a straight-forward drama,” adds Grahame-Smith. “If there’s a different way into it, we’ll take that. The easy way to describe it is mash-up. We’re very interested in genre, and tilting genre.”
They went on to talk about the various movies and TV shows KatzSmith has lined up.
Murders and Acquisitions:
SETH GRAHAME-SMITH: It’s a Boiler Room-type movie, mixed with an assassin movie. It’s about a corporate raider, high-finance guy who raids one company too many and the ousted CEO hires assassins to kill him. It’s highly skilled assassins versus highly skilled financial assassins. With Occupy Wall Street, it seems very timely right now.
Rolling With Dad, an animated series being developed for Adult Swim that is described as "Married… With Children starring a Stephen Hawking-esque character. Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), Nick Swardson (Comedy Central’s Pretend Time), and Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) would lend their voices to the show.
SGS: We’re not saying he’s Stephen Hawking, obviously, but he’s based on him. He has a debilitating accident and loses everything, loses his career, and is stuck in a wheelchair relying on his idiot family for the first time in his life.
DAVID KATZENBERG: It came from Seth and I driving around town, taking meetings and just talking like Stephen Hawking.
SGS: I do the Dad voice. I speak in that voice and they filter it and put it through a little speaker box. He’s a telemarketer to make money. The problem is he doesn’t do very well because everyone always thinks it’s a robo-call.
A coming of age movie called From Mia With Love, about awkward teen boys who purchase a Russian mail-order bride. Katzenberg hopes to direct it for Fox.
SGS: It’s Weird Science for the modern age.
DK: Everyone is pushing the rated-R comedy, but we thought we would take a stab at the John Hughes-y PG-13. A little more heart than fart.
The Beetlejuice sequel is still in the early stages, but they revealed the following:
DK: We’re not remaking Beetlejuice. People have been very angry about that.
SGS: When Warner Bros. came to us about it, we said the only way we’d do it if we got Tim [Burton’s] blessing and involvement, and we got that, and the star of the movie has to be Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, and it’s a true continuation 26 years later. Not just throwing him in as a cameo going, “Hey, it’s me. I endorse this movie.” We’re not there yet [with Keaton] because we don’t have a film to present to him.
Unholy Night (formerly titled We Three Kings) is based on Grahame-Smith's recent novel. The story focuses on "the wandering wise men and puts an action-adventure twist on the original Christmas story."
SGS: That is a huge swords and sandals epic, and very dark, and very expensive. We’re going to have to partner with another big producer to get it off the ground, but that’s something we hope to get going. We have a big pitch on that Nov. 1. If Warner Bros. sparks to Unholy Night and really wants to do it, I’ll probably end up writing that very quickly. That one could be a prime candidate to film sometime next year.
The duo plan to pitch Night of the Living to Burton. The project is a stop-motion animation story about monsters who suffer an invasion of normal people.
SGS: Night of the Living is all of the topes of horror movies, but turned on their head from the monster’s point-of-view.
Fire Teddy, an Office Space-type workplace comedy about a professional downsizer and a particular pathetic employee about to be laid-off.
DK: It’s a modest, low-budget character-driven comedy about a young man whose sole job is to fire Teddy, who has every issue in the books, and he just can’t fire him.
Alive in Necropolis, based on a supernatural crime novel by Doug Dorst, set in the real-life city of Colma,Calif., which has 1,600 living citizens, and 1.6 million bodies buried in its surrounding cemeteries.
SGS: When people in San Francisco [in the 1920s] realized they were running out of real estate, they exhumed all the bodies and graveyard markers and moved them to this town, making it basically a kind of city of the dead. The book is about a murder mystery, told through the eyes of a young detective who may or may not be going crazy, and may or may not be seeing ghosts that are helping him. It’s a very rainy streets, brooding, straight-forward supernatural thriller.
On the TV front, they are developing Extra Curricular, a live-action show that is described as “the supernatural Breakfast Club.”
SGS: A group of kids gets detention on the same day. They have absolutely nothing to do with each other. It’s the goth, it’s the jock, it’s the this, it’s the that … They’re in a chem lab for detention, and, in a very comic book, origin-story kind of way, something goes wrong in the lab and they all get different super powers. All the sudden this group of total non-friends has to become a poor man’s X-Men, figure out what their powers are, and fight a growing crime menace we reveal in a Buffy-type way.
The projects above may sound pretty cool, but not all of them will be made right away if at all. I would like to see Beetlejuice, Unholy Night and Murders and Acquisitions. Which ones do you want to see become a reality most?