Without a doubt, the most popular anime series of the last year has been Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan, an anime set in a post-apocalyptic, vaguely European world. With the existing popularity for the manga series and enthusiasm for the anime series reaching a fever pitch, it has ultimately resulted in animated continuations and an upcoming live-action adaptation. While hype may reach our shores, it rarely can saturate American pop culture thoroughly enough to warrant the same treatment here. However, Hollywood is willing to place a bet on Titan and who better to bring this visceral, action-packed tale of humanity’s last stand for survival than the creative team behind 2010’s family comedy Marmaduke.
“It’s not unusual to have entire crews make multiple movies together.”, says director, Tom Dey. “ Just look at what Brian Helgeland did with A Knight’s Tale and The Order. Everyone is still watching those movies and quoting lines from them on a daily basis. When you develop a relationship this solid with people, anything you make will be perfect.”
And it’s not just director Tom Dey, producer John Davis, writers Tim Rasmussen and Vince Di Meglio, composer Christopher Lennertz, and literally everyone involved in the Marmaduke production, including caterers and extras, but also the cast, including Owen Wilson, voice of Marmaduke, and George Lopez, who played Carlos, the street smart cat with a corazon of gold.
Dey told us that Owen would be playing 2 roles in the film, as the cast for Marmaduke was far smaller than one necessary for an epic action movie. “Owen will be playing the role of Armin Arlert, one of the supporting characters of the show and best friend to Eren Yeager, the main protagonist. We’ve got Lee Pace cast as Eren, but Owen has proved himself time and time again, from The Big Bounce to You, Me and Dupree, to be a natural leading man. So, the decision was made early on to make Armin the focus of this adaptation. We think the fans will respond well to this change. If Street Fighter:The Movie taught me anything, it’s that fans don’t care which character is the one you see the most in the movie, or if he is even represented correctly in the movie. It’s just that they’re in there.” But it’s not just the focus of the movie that will change, but also character arcs as well. “Because Owen/Armin is the focus, we gave him the ability to turn into a Titan, instead of Eren. Basically, if you want to boil it down, Armin is Eren and Eren is Armin, but we’re going to still call them the same names. Also, instead of being a apprehensive, somewhat cowardly character as he is in the series, Owen insisted he instead he be a pickpocketing beachbum who has a hard time with relationships and is on the run from the mafia for gambling debts, so we just changed the setting to Miami. ”
Dey then went on to tell us George Lopez’s role in the movie would be a “big” one (Editorial note: Tom Dey asked us to say that specifically and to write it as a quote). “George will be one of the main Titans in the movie. The cartoon really focuses on the white characters and we really wanted to broaden the appeal. Plus, George had just had his wisdom teeth removed the day he was available to shoot, so he was able to tap into the big, dumb lumbering Titan frame of mind, and the blood pouring out of his mouth from his fresh wounds was a big plus for our make-up department.”
Dey says we can expect the usual from the Latino funnyman “When George does attain lucidity, expect plenty of wise-cracking classic Lopez moments as he hilariously keeps making reference to his mama, Mexican food, drug cartels and performs entire segments from The George Lopez Show. Since we only had one day with George early in production, we didn’t have much of a script, so we just had him recycle his classic material. Audiences don’t mind if you recycle jokes. If it’s funny once, it’s always funny.”
There’s even a role for Marmaduke in the picture. “We cast the dog who played Marmaduke as General Marmaduke, replacing General Pixis. We figured since this is post-apocalyptic Miami circa 1998, audiences would welcome a talking dog general. Owen will also be voicing the dog, since it’s actually Marmaduke who’s leading the troops. Equally, he’s trying to keep his owner and subordinate, Armin, from pursuing a relationship with the hot new vet Titania, played by Emma Stone, who also voices every cat in the movie, which leads to a lot of humorous situations.”
When it comes to exciting fight and chase scenes with the Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear that sits at the foundation of the show, Dey acknowledges that there were some budgetary constraints they had to acknowledge. “Our budget is the exact same as Marmaduke, and while that worked for that movie with small amounts of visual effects work, it held us back a little on some of our set pieces with this film. So, we made the decision to change the maneuver gear to a corvette that Armin drives around in. But we think that it’s going to be just as fun as the maneuver gear. The test groups love the car chase sequences.”
Dey is confident audiences will be satisfied with his teams interpretation of the series. “When you get right down to it, we’re combining two great franchises, Marmaduke and Attack on Titan, and if Marvel’s success lately is any indication of what the demographic is into, mixing franchises together can mean nothing but success. But Marmaduke fans will be thrilled to see the return of everyone’s favorite Great Dane. In fact, someone who has never seen Attack on Titan will enjoy this movie immensely, as the plot doesn’t necessarily center on the Titans at all. Audiences will just be treated to intermittent moments of a giant naked George Lopez and Owen Wilson telling jokes with a city around them. And really, that might be a good time to take the kids to the bathroom, as we didn’t have any money left to digitally remove or censor anything below the waist. We’re basically making Marmaduke 2 with naked adult men thrown in at various points.”
Marmaduke 2: Attack on Titania is set to release next spring.