Spike Jonze talks Where The Wild Things Are

Spike Jonze has finally started to talk about his long-gestating adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are.

For a while now, we’ve been hearing rumours of trouble on the film, of studio worries and interference. Now Ain’t It Cool has tracked down Jonze for a sprawling, info-packed horse’s mouth chat.

And the good news is, it sounds like the movie’s progressing nicely. “We just locked picture about three weeks ago, and we’ll probably finish all the effects by, like, May or so. Then we mix in May and we have our dates in October.”

“Exhausting and insane”

But he’s willing to admit it hasn’t been an easy job – more of a slog that started two years ago. When I was writing it, I kind of knew it was complicated, but I kind of just had to be wilfully naïve about that to not get bogged down in it. But it’s hard. I think by the time we got to Australia and were shooting it, the realities of what we were trying to do set in.

“And it was just sort of exhausting and insane to be out on these cliffs in southern Australia where there’s 60 mph winds, and you’ve got all these guys in suits, and you’ve got this little boy who’s freezing. We had to abandon locations because of storms. So it was just total insanity.”

Plus, Jonze is upfront about the issues that studio executives raised when they became concerned about the movie’s darker tones. “I think that’s what freaked the studio out about the movie. It wasn’t a studio film for kids, or it wasn’t a traditional film about kids.

Confounding expectations

“We didn’t have like a Movie Kid in our movie, or a Movie Performance in a Movie Kid world. We had a real kid and a real world, and I think that’s sort of where our problem was. In the end they realized the movie is what it is, and there’s no real way to... it’s sort of like they were expecting a boy and I gave birth to a girl.”

The film, which sees a kid named Max (played, conveniently, by a kid named Max Records) drawn into a world of fantastical beasts, who appoint him their king. Catherine Keener plays his mother, and the creatures feature voice-over work from the likes of James Gandolfini and Catherine O’Hara.

With any luck, it’ll hit UK screens late next year or early 2010. And you can see two new pictures from the film in our gallery.

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