Gizmo, the OG small but mighty hero with big eyes and big ears is back! The delightful gremlins The creature returns in animated form to take us back in time and uncover its history Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.
io9 caught up with the showrunner of the new Max series, Tze ChunAnd gremlins And Gremlins 2: The New Batch Director Joe Dante talks about returning to the beloved cult franchise after almost 40 years. “I’m a little late,” Dante explained. “I found out about the show, called Warner Bros. and thought it was a great concept. I said, “If there’s anything I can do to help you guys, let me know.” And they’ve been very accommodating – they’ve taken me in, I’ve given my input and so on. But it was a long way before I got in there.”
Chun (whose other credits include Gotham and comics publisher TKO Studios) gave Dante his flowers — “Everything Joe did was the inspiration for the entire series!” — before adding, “That just came out of a conversation with Warner Bros., Amblin, [Warner Bros. Animation’s] Sam Register, and [Gremlins executive producer] Steven Spielberg on his desire to make one gremlins animated prequel. And I came in with an attitude towards young Sam Wing.”
Secrets of the Mogwai canonically exists in the same universe as Dante’s gremlins Movies, the showrunner explained. “There’s old Mr. Wing from the original movies that he’s in, Number One and Number Two,” Chun said. In the films, the older character is played by the late Keye Luke, and he doesn’t want to sell Gizmo to the Peltzer family — for all of the messy reasons we see throughout the story. The animated series takes us to 1920s Shanghai, China, where it introduces 10-year-old Sam Wing and explores the character’s first adventures with Gizmo before they set off for America. “Early on when we were talking about the show, [it was] Something for us parents, children and teenagers – the whole family – to watch together. Me and my co-showrunner Brendan Hay are obviously huge fans of the original films and we want to make sure the show appeals to fans of the original films while also attracting new fans.”
Audiences will be in for a treat with the Amblin-produced series that has received Spielberg’s seal of approval. It evokes the energy of the original films with its action scenes and signature dash of dark humor and spooky moments – something that was important to Chun. “One of the things I remember very clearly when I first saw this gremlins Movie – and like many members of our writing team, cast and crew, we all probably saw Gremlins too soon – we love the movie and really laughed a lot. We too are traumatized by the film,” Chun said. “And so we really want to capture that tone, which is funny, scary, and quirky – everything that Joe did with the films.”
Dante chimed in, adding, “But that’s the key to the whole show – one of the things I admire most about the show is that it’s managed to maintain the light and dark, very similar to the both original films.” ”
Secrets of the Mogwai‘s approach to this signature gremlins The tone is steeped in Chun’s perspective on Sam Wing’s family history and culture, connecting Gizmo and his fellow Mogwai with Chinese folklore. “You know the Mogwai as supernatural creatures; They are similar to Chinese legends and myths and creatures and monsters in that Chinese monsters usually have rules for how they work. They’re really scary, but also really funny. And to be able to merge these two – the gremlins Franchise set against a backdrop of 1920s China – was really, really fun.”
The origins of Mogwai are in the mind of Dante, and original screenwriter Chris Columbus was actually inspired by Warner Bros. own legacy of animation. “There is much Looney Tunes influence,” confirmed Dante. His gremlins share some DNA with the 1934 gremlin Looney Tunes short falling rabbit, Directed by Robert Clampett, Bugs Bunny meets a cute but messy little creature who is up to some dangerous deeds on an airplane. Dante elaborated: “And indeed [Looney Tunes animator] Chuck Jones is even in the movie and Billy wants to be a cartoonist,” he said, referring to the scene where Gizmo’s new guardian, Billy Pelzer, calls himself “Mr. Jones,” the animation star played in a brief cameo to show him his art.
“The thing about the franchise is that it’s been so popular over the years because Steven Spielberg decided at the last minute that Gizmo shouldn’t turn into the evil gremlin after 30 minutes,” Dante said, bringing us to the background back-the-scene-moment. “And he was actually going to stay with us throughout the movie and be the hero’s sidekick, which was awful for us because we only built this little bucket of screws for 30 minutes, and now we had to make him the hero of the hero.” movie But in hindsight, I really think the difference between the gremlins and the ghoulies and the other impersonators and gluttons was that this character had a heart. It’s the charm of a baby; He’s a bit like a baby. And Howie Mandel sang this voice that very much resembled a baby character. The audience fell in love with it. And that was the difference between a movie that just has a lot of monsters eating people and a movie that has heart. I think that’s what kept it alive all these years.”
With Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai As we expanded the story of the Wing family, we had to wonder if there was room to explore the story of Mr. Wing’s grandson in the future gremlins Projects, maybe even a crossbreed with the adult Billy Peltzer in a live action gremlins 3? Dante laughed and steered the conversation back to the series (we tried!) by saying: “That’s the time travel episode we haven’t talked about yet.”
Chun added: “I mean, we certainly have a lot of time between 1920’s China and the original gremlins movies. And so we hope for many more seasons to come.”
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai begins streaming on Max (formerly HBO Max) on May 23.
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