Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"I am the emperor, and I want dumplings"

Lorenzo di Bonaventura, producer extraordinaire, is interviewed about Transformers over at, and they ask him about Stardust. His answers are informative and interesting,

Q: I’d like to go into Stardust for a second if you don’t mind.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Okay, sure.

Q: I heard that they’re test screening out in Pasadena and it had very, very high test scores.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: It did, which I was surprised by actually.

Q: How has it been going on that as well?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Exceedingly well. It’s a weird thing to say. I don’t think everybody’s going to love the movie because it’s not a movie that’s designed to be that and yet when we went and tested it, they really flipped for it so it caught me off guard. It was a movie where I expected to have a larger portion of the audience go ‘well, that’s sort of out there. I’m not sure it’s for us.’ And what happened was that we delivered I think the romance so spectacularly well – Matthew (Vaughn) did such a good job with it – that it caught a segment of the audience in that I wasn’t expecting.

Q: I’ve heard an anecdote along those lines saying that the studio was afraid to call it a fairy tale similar to like a Princess Bride and that Matthew really wants to call it but that it’s sort of being discouraged.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: That’s not true. We all have the same fear which is when you use the word fairy tale… It’s interesting. We learned this from the focus groups. When we asked them to describe the movie to us and then they would give us a description and then we’d say to them, ‘What do you think if we describe it as a fairytale?,’ they’d say ‘NOOOOO!’ like that and we’d go, ‘Whoa! Okay, alright! We’re not going to call it that!’ It was really sort of an interesting thing. Because it’s not a movie that fits into any simple genre -- it is an adventure movie, it is a romance, it is a fantasy, it is Neil Gaiman’s bizarre world view -- there’s going to be some struggle for us to find the way to voice this thing, so we’re really going to need you guys to help us actually. (Laughs) It’s true. We’re going to be a very print-driven movie.

I've known Lorenzo for a decade now, since he ran Warner Brothers, and he is a very wise man. Although I probably think my worldview is more normal than he does....

Hi Neil,

This isn't a question, but some information: At dinner on Friday evening, my friend's mother was telling us a that a man in Wal-Mart told her the Russians are stealing our bee technology, which would be the reason for all the vanishing bees (re: the article in your journal for 3/5/07). He seemed pretty sure of it, so I figured I'd pass along the warning just in case. Watch out for all those new bees in your garden.

Stephanie H.

It could be Russians with apian transporter beams stealing our bees, I suppose. ("Locked onto the hive co-ordinates, tovarisch." "Good. Bring them in.") God knows, if we don't listen to friends' mothers telling us what men in Wal-Mart said, we'll never learn anything...

My own theory about the disappearing bees is that some bright bee in each of the now-empty hives said, "'ere, why are we eating this appalling corn syrup muck out of container tankers when we've spent all year making lovely honey? Why are we being driven around the country on the back of trucks? Why do we put up with this? We're bees for god's sake. We can fly. Let's go somewhere else." And then the rest of the bees went "She's got a point, you know," and then they went elsewhere.

Is there any plans to do an unabridged production of Neverwhere? Your stories
have always been best when read aloud, they lend to such wonderful story telling.
I'd read most of your books once, and recently listened to Anasi Boys,
and Stardust. I felt like a kid again, telling and listening to stories around
the camp fires with my friends when reading out loud was the fashion. Thanks for your good works. ~Chad

Yup. I recorded it already. The existence of the extremely abridged version of Neverwhere with the astoundingly truncated ending has always irked me, despite the Brian Eno music and the really solid Gary Bakewell reading, but the license for it has now expired, and I am happy to say that it will vanish from the world.

The new version will be out later this year, probably in the Autumn. I actually recorded it from the "author's preferred text" version, so it's the longest version of the text. I loved recording the audiobook, and doing all the voices, and found myself remembering how much I liked all those people, and wanting to write The Seven Sisters all over again.

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