Ever wonder what Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man do when they’re not scaring people?
The animated hit Hotel Transylvania runs with this concept, taking place at a remote resort run by Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). Drac is about to host some old friends — including Frankenstein (Kevin James), the Wolf Man (Steve Buscemi) and his gaggle of furball kids — in the one place monsters can escape the constant, fearful eye of us pesky humans. The place has to remain a secret, but all that changes one day when a young human (Andy Samberg) stumbles into the hotel and upsets everything, while also catching the eye of Mavis, who is eager to explore the outside world.
It’s all brought to life by veteran animator Genndy Tartakovsky, who is making his transition to the big screen after creating such TV hits as Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and the first incarnation of Star Wars: Clone Wars. It was a big step up profile-wise, but Tartakovsky says the trick to working with A-list talent was just to stay out of the way.
“It was fascinating to see them really try to work through the material and find the funniest parts,” he says. “There were a lot of times in the beginning when I was tempted to jump in, but I found if I just let them work through it, they’d come up with the best stuff.”
While there was a whole lot that was different about working on a movie, some of it reminded Tartakovsky of his days on TV.
“The whole thing about TV is it’s a tremendous grind, because it’s so fast and anything you put on paper is on the air six months later,” he says. “With a feature I thought, ‘Oh, I can take my time.’ And then once I got on it, it was like, ‘No, we need to release this next year’ and ‘You don’t have any time’ and ‘Go, go, go.’ That part of it ended up being kind of similar.
“But then the one thing that I realized was that the pressure is so much different. In television, if we do an episode of something and it doesn’t hit as strong, usually people will forgive you and the next episode hopefully will be better. But with movies, you work so many years and everything builds to this one moment, really one opening weekend. If … it doesn’t land, then all that work is for nothing.”
He needn’t have worried. Hotel Transylvania broke the record for a September opening weekend with $43 million, on its way to a total $146 million domestic haul. A sequel is underway and slated to hit theaters in 2015.
Tartakovsky also has a big-screen version of Popeye in the works, but fans of his TV work have reason to be excited, too. Tartakovsky says that long hoped-for Samurai Jack movie may finally be getting close to fruition.
Hotel Transylvania is available starting Jan. 29 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.