Matrix Goes Anime

By Paul Martin December 23rd, 1999, in The Animatrix, The Matrix

Joel Silver says the prequel is too big for film, should be animated.

A prequel to The Matrix is under consideration, according to producer Joel Silver, but the story might be too big and expensive for conventional filmmaking, leaving animation as the only alternative.

“[The Wachowski brothers] have a story that essentially gets us from our world today to the world of The Matrix,” Silver told UK movie magazine Empire recently. “We’re talking about dealing with that story in animation, because it would be really impractical to shoot a war between man and machine in live action.”

If you recall the backstory in The Matrix, you know that intelligent robots created by humans eventually revolted, took control of the planet, and imprisoned humanity in organic battery packs. One way to present this massive struggle would be to follow the lead of Japanese animation.

“The boys are very big fans of Japanese Anime — Ghost in the Shell and Akira — and we may involve that style in some kind of animation,” Silver said.

Another possibility might be involving the website in the prequel.

“We’re very excited also about our web activity,” Silver told the magazine. “The Matrix website was full of content, and we’re discussing involving animation and the web site.”

Currently, the official site is working on online comics created by such diverse talents as Neil Gaiman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Harlan Ellison, and Poppy Z. Brite.

As for the sequels to The Matrix, which would be shot as live action films, Silver said the Wachowski brothers are writing them right now. To read the complete interview with Silver, [see below].


Hot-shot producer Joel Silver reveals the secrets of The Matrix to UK’s EMPIRE magazine

One of the few producers alive who may lay claim to the title auteur, Joel Silver remains one of Hollywood’s last heavyweights. A producer rivalled only in spectacle by the likes of the late Don Simpson and partner Jerry Bruckheimer, Silver’s films have earned a combined world-wide gross of more than $3 billion, 14 of them taking over $100 million.

Released on VHS and DVD this week, the Silver-produced The Matrix breaks ground once again, the latter format revealed to contain an option allowing you to go behind-the-scenes while watching the film at various crucial points with Silver’s making-of augmenting both formats. Empire Online tracked Silver down to his luxurious Claridge’s suite to discuss one of the films of the year.

At what stage did you come on board on The Matrix?

I had acquired their script Assassins. .they saw me struggling to try to deliver what they intended and they said ‘Why don’t you read this other script we have, you might be able to help us with it. So I read [The Matrix] very early on. It even went further than the movie as it exists. They travel to Zion; you see another act of what will be the first act, I guess, of the sequel. It was a staggering read.

Of all the jaw-dropping sequences, the Kung-Fu fights stand out. What was the brothers’ thinking behind these?

They were passionate that all four principal actors – Hugo, Keanu, Lawrence and Carrie-Anne – all be skilled in Kung-Fu, so that they could shoot those scenes in a style relatively new to Western audiences. Our style is to fool the audience to believe that they’re watching the real actors in a fight when they weren’t.

You wereresponsible for re-inventing the action genre with both the DieHard and Lethal Weapon films. Do you think The Matrix has donethe same?

I think that we intended to look at the action genre a little differently, and to approach the story of an action movie a little differently. Larry and Andy were able to take standard action genre fare, and tip it a little on its head. When we first showed the movie, people thought there was so much talk in the beginning that the audience wouldn’t accept the dialogue. But since the directors were always fans of serial fiction, their intention was to continue the story and to literally create an arena where superheroes could exist in a realistic society, and not a Saturday morning animated television show aesthetic. The last shot is Keanu’s character, Neo, flying past the camera. That allowed them to set up a series of movies that will now expand that idea.

At what stage are Larry and Andy at with The Matrix 2 & 3 ?
They’re writing now.

There were rumours of a prequel…

They have a story that essentially gets us from our world today to the world of The Matrix. We’re talking about dealing with that story in animation, because it would be really impractical to shoot a war between man and machine in live action. The boys are very big fans of Japanese Anime – Ghost in the Shell and Akira – and we may involve that style in some kind of animation. We’re very excited also about our web activity. The Matrix website was full of content, and we’re discussing involving snimation and the web site.

The DVD has the web-site on it – why?

The website that existed for the movie will be preserved forever. We planned to do things with the DVD early on in making the movie. Our cinematographer Bill Pope – his son is a young filmmaker, and he was on set and said ‘Look, I’d like to shoot every day behind the scenes – is that possible?’ We photographed behind-the-scenes footage every single day, which allowed us to have so much alternative activity on the DVD.”

Interview: James Mottram

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