Just weeks after the film’s December release, Kosinski was back in the edit room, tweaking the film that would eventually gross over $400 million worldwide. Hey, you can’t blame a guy for being a perfectionist — especially if he’s lived and breathed the world of “Tron” for four years. And as result, the director has dubbed the Blu-ray release — which hits shelves on Tuesday (April 5) — the “definitive” version of “Tron Legacy.”
A few days ago, Kosinski gave MTV News a call to talk about the new release, his response to criticism of the effects work to turn Jeff Bridges into a younger version of himself, and why the next “Tron” sequel can be compared to “The Dark Knight.”
MTV NEWS: You worked on this movie for years. Have you been suffering from “Tron” withdrawal in the last couple months?
JOSEPH KOSINSKI: It’s been nice to be back in the real world. My first meeting for the movie was in July 2007, so it’s been almost four years, which is mindboggling. Near the end, right before the movie came out, that was the end of a three year push — but those last couple months were just insane. It was literally 24/7. It was nice to be able to see the sun again and get back to reality.
MTV NEWS: If you knew when you started out that this was going to consume you for four years, would you have signed up?
KOSINSKI: I don’t think I knew what I was getting into. But no one did. It was just a great opportunity to learn about the job and the business and the fact that directing isn’t just standing on a film set and lining shots up.
MTV NEWS: I don’t know the last time you watched it, but can you sit back and watch objectively and enjoy at this point, or do you have to nitpick about doing this differently, doing that differently?
KOSINSKI: Around the release, it was really hard to watch it. I couldn’t even sit through the premiere. I just saw all the things I wanted to fix. Luckily for the Blu-ray, I was able to go back to Skywalker in January and fix all those things in the mix that were bothering me. We have a whole re-mastered soundtrack for the Blu-ray. In terms of being objective, I think it’s too soon. I think it’ll take a few years. Actually, [original “Tron” writer/director] Steve [Lisberger] is right here next to me. Are you objective about your first movie?
STEVEN LISBERGER: I just got to go back for this Blu-ray and make changes in the first film and that was like I died and went to movie heaven. I never thought I’d be able to make these tweaks.
KOSINSKI: So, maybe, what, 28 years I’ll come back and do my special edition?
MTV NEWS: So at Skywalker, were you just working on the sound mix or any visual effects stuff?
KOSINSKI: No, visual effects I’m really happy with. There was a huge crunch those last couple weeks, but I’m really proud of Digital Domain and everyone, how we were really able to get it all done and not drop the ball on any shots at the end. But on the sound mix, I really felt like we needed another week and I finally got that time after release. It’s now the definitive version.
MTV NEWS: Some people loved the young Jeff Bridges. Others found fault with the visual effects work. At the end of the day, are you happy with how it turned out?
KOSINSKI: We knew it was going to be the most ambitious thing in our film because we were creating a digital human being to play in scenes against real human beings. The criticism for being ambitious is one I’ll take any day, as opposed to being criticized for not trying it at all.
MTV NEWS: With all the technical effects and just figuring out how to do all this stuff and do it in 3-D, what are some of the lessons you learned from “Tron: Legacy”?
KOSINSKI: It’s all about time. We shot this movie in 65 or 66 days, which is pretty aggressive as a 2-D schedule, and ours was shot in 3-D. On future films, that’s something I’ll really push for — to have the time so you don’t have to pull 17 hour days. It can work against you.
MTV NEWS: Which of course begs the question for another “Tron” — could you see yourself passing it off or is this your baby?
KOSINSKI: We’re working on the story right now. Now that we’ve got the backstory out of the way and we know this world and we know these characters, there’s a lot of freedom that comes with the next film. When you look at “Empire Strikes Back” or “The Dark Knight,” sequels that were able to take the stories and characters to whole new places because you’d done all the hard work ahead of time, that’s a really exciting thing. For now, I’ll just say it’s very exciting.
MTV NEWS: Is it the case, like James Cameron has talked about with “Avatar,” that he put in so much of the startup work on the first one for years and the sequels won’t take as long?
KOSINSKI: For us, the storytelling will be easier because we won’t be saddled with 28 years of backstory. From a technical standpoint, in order for it to be a “Tron” movie, we’re going to have to push the envelope. I’m sure we won’t make it any easier.
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