What 'A Quiet Place' can teach Hollywood about original stories
Producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form discuss the film's unexpected success and the difficulty of finding original horror screenplays.
When "A Quiet Place" debuted on April 6, 2018, industry experts expected it would make $20 to $25 million. Instead, it took everyone by surprise, even the film's producers, raking in $50 million on its opening weekend. It has, so far, earned more than $200 million globally.
The film relies on suspense more than gore and it has a PG-13 rating. Those things have helped. But it's also succeeding because it has a fresh story.
The film's production company, Platinum Dunes, hasn't always been known for original movies. In fact, most of its productions have been remakes or sequels like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "The Amityville Horror" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form wanted to find more original stories to put on screen.
They spoke with The Frame's John Horn. You can hear the full conversation on The Frame podcast. Below are some highlights.
John: You guys have had a chance to see the movie play in front of an audience. What do you notice about it that’s unusual or different from any other film you’ve ever made?
Brad: Well, we know that within the first eight minutes people stop eating food.
Andrew: Around 20 minutes is the latest we've seen popcorn eaten in the movie.
Brad: The movie itself is so quiet that any noise becomes heightened. We see all these tweets, don’t eat during the movie. The Alamo Theater chain has its own "A Quiet Place" menu so it’s not too loud or too crunchy. I think the overall effect is that the lack of sound makes you lean into the movie more and makes you pay closer attention.
John: The other thing that’s very noticeable about what you’ve done in the past is that you’ve done a lot of remakes. Is original material hard to come by? Is it easier to do a remake?
Andrew: Our business plan was never to remake all those horror films. That was not the intent. The intent for us was on our first film, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," we felt like there was a opportunity because at Blockbuster there was [only] one copy of the movie. So it felt like everyone knew what that title was but there wasn’t a proliferation of the DVD or VHS. We thought, if we can make that movie and make it really visceral and exciting and bring a very visionary director to that, maybe that’s the way we can get into the business. After the first one worked, we felt that was the path that we could go down with the least resistance.
John: Certainly your movie has been incredibly successful. So was Jordan Peele's "Get Out." It’s no secret that a lot of these movies are working. So how do you position yourself and your films so that even if there’s a glut of movies, it stands out?
Brad: I think that it's about concept. It's about the concept of the film and something that feels different from what audiences are getting everywhere else. The reason "A Quiet Place" is working the way it is is that it's just a different movie-going experience. So it's incumbent upon us to challenge ourselves to find concepts that will get people to go and feel different from the other things that they’re seeing.
Andrew: Audiences don't need to leave their house to get all the entertainment in the world. TV has never been better than it is right now. So, if you're going to ask people to leave their house, you better give them an experience that they can't get in their home.
Brad: And if you try to chase it, as we have learned, they will sniff it out. And it can be a full, outright rejection. You could spend as much money as you want, if you don't have that fresh concept or that hook or something new that they haven't seen before. They don’t care how much money you’re spending, they won’t show up. We've been down the road with all the remakes and prequels and sequels but to find original material has been the biggest challenge for us as a company.