IFH 503: From The Purge to This is the Night with James DeMonaco

1:20:37
 
Share
 

Manage episode 303035341 series 2482463
By Alex Ferrari. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
The Purge franchise is one of the most iconic dystopian action horror series of all time and the man behind it, James DeMonaco is not stopping anytime soon.
Jame is our guest today and even though we talk a great deal about the various Purge films he’s either written or directed, which are all fan favorites, we start off with his most recently released film, This Is The Night, that was digitally released on September 21, 2021, after a prior theater release on Sep 17, 2021.
This Is The Night, drama stars Frank Grillo, Lucius Hoyos, Jonah Hauer-King, Bobby Cannavale, and Naomi Watts. It is set in the summer of 1982 Staten Island with the release of Rocky III as its backdrop. The story tells of an average teen who embarks on a quest in his Rocky Balboa-obsessed town that swirls in his family members. Watts and Grillo will play with his parents. His family must confront its greatest challenges and the family realizes that the only way to live is like there's no tomorrow.
I have tons of questions for James in this interview, which I am sure you, my tribe will appreciate. I have been a fan of some of his work but clueless he had written other top-ranked films on my list, it came as an exciting shock to discover more that James has written, directed, or produced. Besides screenwriting, directing, and producing projects like the Purge movies, he’s also written for TV and gets credit for writing The Negotiator, Staten Island, Jack, and Assault on Precinct 13.
As a child of 5 years old, he would beg his more for a pass to watch the 4:30 ABC network movies and would visit the cinema often. At seven years old, he went to see, Apocalypse at the cinema and that changed everything for him. Leaving that theater with the desire to be part of that experience of whatever happened on the screen.
Through screenwriting, he landed his first production gig with director Francis Coppola, for the 1996 movie, Jack, starring Robin Williams.
The inspiration for The Purge was birthed during James’s time living in Paris and Canada. It came mainly, from his relationship against guns even though he had grown up around cops. The experience in Europe and Canada, in general, were the complete opposites he had observed. This was around the time mass shootings in America were on the rise in the early 2000s. Combined with an aftermath dark thought from a road rage incident curious about what it would be like if we all had a day pass, turned into a masterpiece original screenplay. But dressed in a science fiction dystopian world.
The Purge: Anarchy - A couple is driving home when their car breaks down just as the Purge commences. Meanwhile, a police sergeant goes out into the streets to get revenge on the man who killed his son, and a mother and daughter run from their home after assailants destroy it. The five people meet up as they attempt to survive the night in Los Angeles.
It was challenging to find someone willing to finance a ‘nihilistic’ and ‘un-American movie life The Purge. James and his partners got about fifty rejections because of how dark the script seemed.
Until finally with help from Jason Blum who said it was a great fit for his low-budget horror model on his deal with Universal Studios, to be produced by Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes.
The studio took a shot at it and the first Purge movie in 2013 albeit on a $3 million budget, grossed $89.3 million. The film starred Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, and Max Burkholder as members of a wealthy family who find themselves endangered by a gang of murderers during the annual Purge, a night during which all crime, including murder, is temporarily legal.
The franchise includes The Purge: Anarchy( 2014), The Purge: Election Year (2016), a prequel, The First Purge (2018), The Purge TV series(2018 to 2019), and The Forever Purge (2021).
There is a sixth Purge movie in the works. And the franchise has grossed overall over $450 million against a combined production budget of $53 million.
We go deep in the weeds on these projects and James’s writing process.
Enjoy my conversation with James DeMonaco.

871 episodes