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My, what big box office you have…
The co-creator of
By Jim Fester
Fort Wayne Reader
On January 17th, film-maker and Anderson native Corey Edwards found out that his animated feature Hoodwinked had seemingly come out of nowhere to become the box office champ of the Martin Luther King weekend, beating out newcomers like basketball movie Glory Road and the new Queen Latifah vehicle. And what hotspot of the entertainment industry did the co-creator of the #1 film in the US find himself in when he learned the good news?
He was in Fort Wayne, speaking to students at IPFW and hosting screenings at Cinema Center Tech.
Well, more accurately, he was at his parent’s house in Anderson, Indiana. That’s where movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Company is distributing the film, called to congratulate him.
It’s a pretty impressive feat for a movie that opened on a small number of screens, and with a promotional budget about half of what its nearest competitor boasted. Written and directed by Edwards, his brother Todd, and Tony Leech, Hoodwinked is a clever twist on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, tackling the familiar story from the viewpoint of several different characters.
At a Q & A session following a screening of the film at Cinema Center Tech, Edwards revealed some of the long, twisted story behind Hoodwinked. It was produced by Blue Yonder Entertainment, the production company Edwards formed with his brother Todd and three other partners about 10 years ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1999, their live-action movie Chillicothe got what many young film-makers would kill for — a spot at the prestigious Sundance film festival. “But after Sundance, we didn’t take off, didn’t get a distributor,” Edwards said. They met another investor who was interested in making a film, so they moved to Los Angeles, but when that fell through… “We spent four or five years floundering around in LA before this opportunity came along.”
To stretch a tiny budget as far as it would go (a meager $15,000 - $20,000. In fact, it cost more to have the movie printed than it did to make it), they set up production at a mansion they rented in the Phillipines, staffing it with a small army of artists. Work on Hoodwinked took over three years.
The movie has gotten solid reviews for its humor, wit, rapid-fire pop cultural references, and fresh take on an old story. One faction that hasn’t been that happy with it are some animators — a perfectionist group, anyway — who object to the movie’s less-than-cutting-edge animation. Edwards acknowledges the criticism, but says they weren’t necessarily going for cutting-edge visuals. “We chose a sort of stop-motion animation effect — a Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer Christmas special style — to be able to pull this off,” he says. “We didn’t want to go for Polar Express and fail miserably. We looked at stop-motion animation like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Wallace & Gromit, and asked, why does your eye know those are miniature dolls on a miniature set? So we lit it and photographed it so that you’d feel that. Yet you have the benefits of CGI, so you can move in really close and get a lot of detail.”
Budget restraints also forced them to get creative with the soundtrack. During an early cut of the movie, they used the Star Wars theme for one sequence; a hilarious scene, Edwards says, but also ridiculously expensive. “10 seconds of that song would cost about $10,000,” he explains. So his brother Todd wrote 10 songs for the movie, writing in a particular style that suited the scene — a John Lennon-type song for one sequence, a yodeling song for another.
Edwards says most of the offers they’re getting now are for another animated feature, though that’s not where his passion lies. “I am dying to get actors in front of a camera again, because I feel that’s where I work best,” he says. “Working with people and cameras on a physical location is very exciting to me. I’ve been locked in a room with computers for three years.”
That said, the Edwards brothers and co-writer Todd Leech are committed to working on a sequel to Hoodwinked, titled Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil. “We’re going to explore the Happily Ever After Agency, with Red and her friends doing this Mission Impossible thing through a lot of other stories,” he says. “And we’re going to explore the Sisters of the Hood, which is this whole Jedi order of women who have worn the Red Hood and fight for justice in the forest. There’s this whole mythology we developed that we never got to talk about, so we’re going to blow that up.”