As you know if you follow me on Twitter, I just got back from Tierra del Fuego, where I was visiting the amazing set of Brett Ratner’s upcoming remake of “Casablanca.” You couldn’t be there with me, but don’t worry, I filled my suitcases with SCOOPS!
Now, a lot of what happened during my amazing set visit is embargoed until the movie is released. That makes sense. The purpose of the set visit is to help the studio promote the film, and there’s no point promoting a film that hasn’t come out yet!
But there are a few things I can tell you right now. First and foremost, I want to put your minds at ease regarding one of the most controversial aspects of this remake: the decision to set it in space rather than Morocco. That had a lot of movie purists up in arms, to say the least! Heck, I was one of them.
But I’m man enough to admit when I was wrong — and I’ll tell you straight-up, now that I’ve been flown to Tierra del Fuego, put up in a nice hotel for a couple nights, given a per diem to cover my meals, and introduced to Anna Faris, I have changed my mind!
The special effects are amazing. It’ll mostly be CGI, of course, but I saw the huge warehouse where they’re shooting the live-action stuff, and it’s very impressive. They’ve built an amazing replica of Rick’s bar that looks just like the one from the 1942 movie, except it’s not in black-and-white and doesn’t smell like Humphrey Bogart. A few things have been modernized to reflect the fact that Rick’s bar is in a space port on the other side of the galaxy. For example, the “piano” that Sam plays-it-again on is now a synthesizer pad, and Sam is an alien. He’ll be CGI and have the voice of George Lopez. I saw Andy Serkis doing the motion-capture work, and it looks amazing.
By the way, if you’re worried that he’s going to be another Jar Jar Binks, you can relax. Ratner himself said that Alien Sam will be, and I quote, “amazing.”
I admit I was a little nervous when Ratner signed on to direct the project. I was also worried when he told Jay Leno that he was commissioning a hip-hop remake of the famous theme song, “As Time Goes By,” and that it would be called “As Your Booty Goes By” and be sung by Lil Jon. Talking to Ratner alleviated my fears, though.
“We know we have a big responsibility here,” he told me (and by “me” I mean me and the other twelve writers at the roundtable interview). “The original ‘Casablanca’ is an amazing film, from what I’ve heard. We want to be respectful of that while also providing something that modern audiences can appreciate. We don’t look at it as a remake so much as a ‘reimagining.’”
He added, “The 3D will definitely not be intrusive.”
Ratner promises he’s not taking too many liberties with the story. In fact, he gave explicit instructions to the six people writing the screenplay that they are NOT to deviate too far from the Wikipedia summary of the original plot. Ratner hasn’t seen a finished version of the screenplay yet, but he’s confident it will measure up to his standards, and that it will be done before shooting has wrapped.
I haven’t talked about the amazing cast yet. Well, move over Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman! Not only are you dead, but you have been replaced by Adam Sandler and Anna Faris! Both of them were amazing to talk to on the set. They’re total professionals. They were cracking everybody up with their pratfalls and funny voices — but then, as soon as the camera stopped rolling, they got serious and talked to us about their craft.
“It’s so amazing to be working with Adam,” said Faris. “He’s so amazing and hilarious. I’ve always wanted to work with him, so this is, like, an amazing experience for me.”
Sandler was complimentary about his costar, too. “Anna is amazing,” he said. “Beautiful and talented — the whole package! It’s a movie set, but it really feels like we’re a big family.”
They weren’t shy about sharing scoops, either! While most of the details are hush-hush, Sandler and Faris were both able to confirm, and I am able to report exclusively, that the movie will be “amazing” and that it will “cost something like $250 million.” Yowza! Clear a spot on the mantle for Oscars, everybody involved!
The set visit was over soon after that, and we had to leave. But they started shooting another scene just as we were on our way out, and we got to hear Sandler deliver Humphrey Bogart’s famous line: “Here’s lookin’ at you, motherf******!” Chills, you guys. CHILLS.
I got lots more details during my visit, but they’ll have to wait until we get closer to the film’s release date and the studio tells me it’s OK to share them. Rest assured, I’ll be posting dozens of news items about this movie right up until it comes out, and then immediately stop talking about it forever.