Director Francis Lawrence Discusses CONSTANTINE Fanboys & The I AM LEGEND Endings

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence is no stranger to adapting written word to film as he previously directed Constantine which is based on DC Comics' Hellblazer and I Am Legend, which is based on Richard Matheson's novel.

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By nailbiter111 - 12/7/2012


John Constantine was first appeared in an issue of "Swamp Thing," created by legendary comic book writer Alan Moore. Several years later the character would garner his own comic book series "Hellblazer," written by Jamie Delano. It has proven to be quite popular as it is the longest running title under DC Comics' edgier venue, Vertigo.

When Francis Lawrence began working on his first feature film, 2005's Constantine he knew he was going to hear an earful from fans as he stripped away the character's blonde locks, British accent and switched the setting from London to Los Angeles. But hey he still had lung cancer and a trenchcoat.

Having Keanu Reeves fill the role of the renegade occultist certainly didn't befriend Lawrence to the fanboys either as the actor doesn't look anything like the singer, Sting, which the character is meant to resemble, nor has the actor's talents ever been confused with Sir Lawrence Olivier. But outside of diehard fans of the comic, most were able to overlook those superficial changes, and except Keanu in the role as Lawrence did an admirable job of conveying the character's darker qualities. His Constantine was still the chain smoking, self-destructive, cynical man with a surly attitude. Although I would say Lawrence's biggest achievement with the film was the overall gloomy look and the amount of meaningful violence that he was able to include in a PG-13 rated film.

Jack Giroux: All of your films so far have been adaptations. Do you just really enjoy having fans watch your every move?

Francis Lawrence: No, actually, I really don’t [Laughs]. I have to say, doing Water for Elephants, it was nice because it was out of the fanboy world. My first two movies were in that comic book, fanboy, sci-fi fantasy world, where you have all these guys who live on their computers watching your every move. It was nice with Water for Elephants, because the fans of the book were really supportive all the way through. Usually, it’s the other way around, dealing with every little thing. For Constantine, people said, “He’s not English or blond,” and the list goes on.

JG: Do you ever feel like saying, “It’s a movie,”?

FL: Yeah, all the time. By the way, it is an adaptation, so things have to change sometimes.

JG: How seriously do you take those reactions? I love what Matthew Vaughn once said, “You’ll read a negative reaction online, but it may be from a 10-year-old who knows nothing about making movies.”

FL: That’s absolutely true. Also, usually the people who feel so passionately about a certain comic, especially Hellblazer, which isn’t the biggest comic in the world, it’s a small slice of the moviegoing public.


He also talked to Movie Pilot about the two endings that were created for his and Will Smith's I Am Legend. Each ending can be viewed below, the first is the original ending (referred to as the "alternate ending") that was loathed at test screenings and replaced for what is now the theatrical/official version.

JG: Was it tough adapting the extremes of the novel?

FL: The book is pretty extremes at times, but this was a very loose adaptation of the book. It takes somethings from the book, The Omega Man, and some things we completely made up. The original novel is vampires and takes place in Compton, so it’s different. Our original ending is what the novella was about, though; the idea of being scared of these creatures we only know as legend, and then we realize they’re the norm; man is the monster. We had some of that in the first ending, not in the theatrical release.




JG: What ending do you prefer?

FL: I like both in different ways. I prefer the original one, because it’s the philosophical ending I enjoy; that what we perceive as the monster isn’t really the monster. I might skew that direction. In tests, people really, really hated it.

JG: I’ve heard filmmakers say that’s a major problem with test screenings, when it comes to dealing with ambitious endings; you’re asking for gut reactions.

FL: Yeah, the endings are always the biggest things with these test cards. I both hate them and like them. I think it’s the most nerve-wracking moment, doing those test screenings. You do learn from them, though; what’s confusing, slow, or too fast.




Source: moviepilot
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31 Comments
TheOneAboveAll - 12/7/2012, 9:30 PM
I am really sad that they did not leave the original ending just because a few people did not like it.
soberchimera - 12/7/2012, 9:32 PM
We need a Hellblazer television series pronto. HBO or Showtime.
BrownandYellowWolvie - 12/7/2012, 9:35 PM
although i do believe fanboys go too far sometimes, there is something to be said about source material. These directors wouldn't have any movie to create if the source material weren't successful/popular already. So i just don't see the purpose of creating 'adaptations' where things are unnecessarily changed. Sure blond locks and an english accent seem small.......so why would these be 'necessary' changes?! doesn't make sense.

It's more of a problem when characters are changed or stories altered unnecessarily. Stick to the source material that is what made the story popular to begin with and you shouldn't have to do much work to make it successful. But instead, these people like to gamble by trying to make 'improvements' and end up failing.
IronSpider101 - 12/7/2012, 10:14 PM
That 10 year old comment by Vaughan seems to apply to most of this site.

Frankly, I'd prefer them NOT to be a slave to the comics. I'd prefer them to go out of their way to make a good movie and using the comics as reference material to the film.

Sometimes you HAVE to stick to the comics to make a good movie. Spider-Man can't be made a Punisher like character. Iron Man can't become a brooding Avenger of the night. You have to keep the basic and integral parts that make these characters these characters, but after that:

Screw the comics. It's a new thing. Its own version. It's the director's vision, and it's not cheapened in any way by a lack of slavery to the source material.
OptimusPrimeTime - 12/7/2012, 10:35 PM
Never read the Constantine source material, but really enjoyed the movie. It's actually been on SyFy the last couple of days where I've seen it.

As far as I Am Legend goes....ya the ending was garbage. Did NOT fit with the movie at all. The arc Nevell was building on did not require his life to end to be complete. Would have been more meaningful that he survive to see that there WAS more humans left.
GetsugaTensho22 - 12/7/2012, 10:53 PM
I really really liked I Am Legend. The original ending would have had a much more gut wrenching impact, sure, but the movie as it turned out was really good. Will Smith is awesome.
Happy11 - 12/8/2012, 12:01 AM
Actually it wasn't his fault they changed the character and moved it to los Angeles it was wb.
xXkryptoniteXx - 12/8/2012, 12:03 AM
I hated the I am Legend ending in the movie, I prefer more for the happy alternative ending. It was will smith, dont kill him off
GIFfreyGinsberg - 12/8/2012, 12:43 AM
Adapt Hellblazer proper.., or as the folks around here, politically tied or no, like to say..,"Get the f*ck out!" Umm, period?
GIFfreyGinsberg - 12/8/2012, 12:46 AM
Movie is not awesome. It's lackluster at best with a poor audio mix. You can't deny that when you're searching for your remote to adjust AMC program levels. I hate to hate, but comtemporary society is a minefield.
GIFfreyGinsberg - 12/8/2012, 12:49 AM
The fact that Will Smith was pictured in this is failsafe. Try to spin it.., it's still failsafe, for we did not get Billy Crudup, Viggo in said role. Eat shit and die, forward ignorant existences.
Andrew1 - 12/8/2012, 2:08 AM
Oh hell ... I might actually be sympathetic to his point if he weren't one of the hackiest directors in the biz. No, Constantine didn't suck because the character was no longer blone ... the film sucked because it was so sloppily edited and written. The characterisations were uninspired, the script seemed to spend half its length explaining the "rules" instead of engaging us on a more emotional level, and the editing was choppy to the point of incoherence. And he managed to take one of the finest supernatural stories and turn it into a lame, water-downed retread. This is a guy that not only works with Akiva Goldsman regularly, but he takes orders from him, as Goldsman is the producer on his first two films. Water for Elephants is actually an improvement (and the script is better than the direction), but this guy can start bitching when he starts doing solid work.
Spideyguy94 - 12/8/2012, 2:51 AM
I actually don't mind this movie, it's not a great movie. But at the very least it's entertaining. I put this in the same category as wanted where it's so far removed from the source materiel it becomes it's own entity.
FireKnightRises - 12/8/2012, 3:03 AM
For I am legend, I'm preferred movie ending with Will Smith character sacrifice himself
RunDTC - 12/8/2012, 3:40 AM
Constantine was rated R.
CaptainObvious - 12/8/2012, 7:15 AM
@DangerStranger- Has Eli Roth ever made a good movie?
Grievo - 12/8/2012, 7:23 AM
his argument about bastardizing material would have much more logic to it if his movies weren't all universally panned. Also, the same director of a movie about animal cruelty which used animal cruelty to train the elephants on set. [frick] this guy to the Nth degree. Movies don't have to be faithful to be good, they just have to be better than the vapid trite this hack puts out.
Robe - 12/8/2012, 8:07 AM
Americans moan if a foreigner is cast as an American or US raised character, but the US movies and television companies have been Americanizing characters and settings for years.
Blade and Constantine are two recent examples, even James Bond MI5 agent has been Jimmy Bond CIA agent once.
Robe - 12/8/2012, 8:08 AM
Sorry should have said MI6.
DukeAcureds - 12/8/2012, 8:27 AM
Actually, yeah, Vaughn, people who care so much about a comic that has a very limited audience are probabaly the ones yu should be listening to for advice on adapting. What he's saying here is "Oh the fans? Fvck the fans, nobody gives a shit about the source material except for a small handful. Fvck them. The general movie audience doesn't give a shit about Hellblazer and neither do I".
Fvck this guy. If people are passionate about something, that isn'tin the mainstream, then it's probably because it's good. So to make your movie good aswell as mainstream, you should be faithful to what those fans like about the source material. That is something that the numbers have proved over and over again, this past decade with adaptations of comic books that are faithful to the source material and pay attention to what the fans think and have made a shitload of money as a result. That's not just some ten year olds opinion, that's just simple numbers and logic. And logic his irregardless of age.
WruceBane - 12/8/2012, 9:44 AM
This guy sounds like the definition of a Hollywood hack director.
mctrinket - 12/8/2012, 9:46 AM
Even a ten-year-old is old enough to know that casting Keanu Reeves as Constantine was a bad idea.
Mentok - 12/8/2012, 9:48 AM
I've seen old Constantine treated in worse ways than the movie. Azzarello's run comes to mind.

What we need is a Constatine movie based on Ennis' run, I think he defined the character. It's sad that the movie took elements from Dangerous Habits cause for me that was the highlight in John's career as as conman/magician. A reworking of that sory arc would be great although it may feel like a "remake" to some but then again, aren't remakes the hot deal nowdays in Hollywood?
jimoakley666 - 12/8/2012, 10:41 AM
I've never read a Hellblazer book, but even I know he [frick]ed up here. I'd love to see a proper foul-mouther scoser Johnny boy. Reeves as the character was utter UTTER bullshit. And rather xenophobic. Why couldn't he be British and just live in L.A? And why does it need to be L.A. anyway? How many huge comic book movies are actually filmed in the UK? Why not set some here? And how many character are played by British actors?

This film, and the director are jokes.

And it featured Shia La-[frick]ing-Beef.
jimoakley666 - 12/8/2012, 10:45 AM
@DangerStranger - Well, Nolan is British, not American. And if you mean 'Peter' Jackson, well, he's a Kiwi. That means he's from New Zealand, not a small fuzzy brown fruit with a green centre.

Although, Jackson is covered in brown fuzz.

Hmmm...
preacher - 12/8/2012, 11:55 AM
These same people who bitch about being faithful to the source material are most likely the same people who were quite ok with The Walking Dead TV series straying so far from IT'S source material. Entire plots changed, characters changed/combined/eliminated, ect. I was ONE of those purists. I AM one of those types that if I am so in love with a story, and it's going to get adapted, other than minor details being changed because of being transfered from one medium to another, I dont' want what I loved about it in the first place to be changed. At all.


Again, case in point, The Walking Dead. So, I took a break from it. Part of the problem was, right before the TV series came out, I bought the entire compilation and read it from start to "finish" and THEN started watching the series. Absolutely hated it. I took a two year break from it and then watched Seasons 1 and 2 and now, I'm a Walking Dead AMC fanatic. I've learned to accept the changes.

I do agree with whomever said that if it's such a minor detail, then why change it. Such as making Constantine a brunette American and changing the setting to L.A. I kind of understand why they threw in Keanu, since Hellblazer wasn't hugely known, such as Batman or Superman, they wanted to have some kind of "action star" that was instantly recognizable to American's to help with box office draw. Altho I'm quite sure they could've found a well known blond brit to fill that spot (none come to mind at the moment).

I myself wasn't familiar with Constantine when the film came out. I loved the movie and have watched it a myriad of times. Since the film came out, I've tried to read the comic and other than a couple of the story lines, I really dont' care for it much. But, that's my own opinion.

I swear, though, if Preacher ever get's adapted, for film or TV series (in my opinion, hbo or starz is the only way to go with Preacher) and the producers insist on a blond Brit to play Jesse Custer I am going to lose my [frick]ing mind.
WesleyGibson - 12/8/2012, 3:01 PM
Constantine is one of my favorite CBM's, just as Hellblazer is one of my favorite comics to read.

It's actually said in a Hellblazer novel that the universe in the film was an alternate vision of John's world, as stated by the comic book version himself.
DukeAcureds - 12/8/2012, 5:21 PM
WesleyGibson@
Which comic is that in? I stopped reading Hellblazer, after the Ennis/ Dillon run.
DukeAcureds - 12/8/2012, 6:31 PM
Never mind, Killer, found it; Hellblazer: War Lord by John Shirley. Awesome.
Egg - 12/8/2012, 7:52 PM
This is the thing: the world does not revolve around comic book readers. A VERY small percentage of those people you see around you in the theatres have any clue about the things most of you here argue about day & night. Suck it up. Enjoy the fact that the general public is able to pour the contents of their wallets into 'The Avengers' & 'The Dark Knight Rises' instead of 'Look Who's Talking'& 'Weekend At Bernie's'.
I mean, jesus, lighten up.
Egg - 12/8/2012, 8:54 PM
sorry..I forgot...shit movie

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