"Harry Potter" Director Conjures '80s Videogames for "Pixels"

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

From Chris Columbus, director of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone,” comes Columbia Pictures’ “Pixels,” the tentpole action comedy in which aliens attack the Earth, using 1980s videogames as the model for their invasion.



Columbus helped define 1980s movies as the writer of “Gremlins” and “The Goonies,” then went on to direct beloved, classic comedies like “Home Alone” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and help launch epic, special-effects blockbuster franchises like “Harry Potter,” “Percy Jackson” and “Night at the Museum.”


Columbus says that “Pixels” appealed to him in myriad ways.  “Reading the `Pixels’ script felt so original, so unique, that I just had to do it,” he says.  “I loved the blend of comedy mixed with action, which gave me an opportunity to do something I hadn’t been able to do since `Harry Potter.’  It enabled me to push the comedy as far as we could, but also create this very intense action adventure film. For me, it’s `Gremlins’ meets `Goonies’ meets `Harry Potter’ – it gave me the opportunity to create something really fresh using the tools I had gathered over the years.  It would be an original summer movie that took you back to the 80s in an evocative, nostalgic way.”



The list of the film’s pixelated co-stars reads like an all-star team of the 1980s: PAC-MAN™, Donkey Kong™, Centipede®, Galaga™, Frogger, Q*bert™, and Space Invaders™, among many others.  “These classic characters were part of the DNA of the project, so it was critical that we work together to bring them on board,” explains Allen Covert, one of the film’s producers.  “Fortunately, they were all extremely receptive. We approached them with a deep love for their characters and a respect for the elements that make them unique and iconic, and we worked with the companies to incorporate those elements into the film.”


Columbus adds, “There would be no way to make the movie without these legendary characters – they are as important to the film as the roles that the actors are playing. It was a real thrill to see everything come together exactly as we envisioned it.”

Executive Producer Michael Barnathan, who also serves as president of Columbus’ company, 1492 Pictures, adds that the filmmaking team also found 1980s inspiration in other ways.  “I think everyone involved with this movie has a great love for the great summer action-comedies of the 1980s,” he says.  “We definitely wanted a movie for today’s audiences, but our goal was also to capture something of the feel that made those movies so special – that mix of action and comedy that the movies of that era did so well.”



Columbus says that one other reason he felt attracted to the project was the chance to make a film that would truly appeal to audiences of all ages.  “Of course, the parents out there are going to remember playing these games at a video arcade, and their kids will be just as amazed by the characters – there are a hundred jokes in the movie that work for parents, and a hundred that work for their kids,” he says.  “But it’s more than that.  I think there’s a lot of nostalgia for these games and about the 80s in particular.  I certainly hear it all the time – I talk to college kids and their favorite movie is `The Goonies.’  There’s a lot of love for that era right now.”

            In “Pixels,” as kids in the 1980s, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Will Cooper (Kevin James), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), and Eddie “The Fire Blaster” Plant (Peter Dinklage) saved the world thousands of times – at 25 cents a game in the video arcades. Now, they’re going to have to do it for real.

            When intergalactic aliens discover video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth, using the video games as the models for their assaults -- and now-U.S. President Cooper must call on his old-school arcade friends to save the world from being destroyed by PAC-MAN™, Donkey Kong™, Galaga™, Centipede®, and Space Invaders™. Joining them is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), a specialist supplying the arcaders with unique weapons to fight the aliens.


            Opening across the Philippines in August 26, “Pixels” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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