Edgar Wright knows how to stretch a dollar. With his "Cornetto Trilogy" of films — the zombie rom-com "Shaun of the Dead," the action bromance "Hot Fuzz" and his latest, the alien invasion pub crawl comedy "The World's End" — Wright tackles tales of arrested male adolescence and nostalgia but marries them with heaping servings of genre spectacle. And that doesn't usually come cheap.
While he won't give an actual figure for the production budget of "The World's End," Wright will say it was "more than 'Hot Fuzz,' but less than 'Scott Pilgrim' and less than 'Paul.' And not even double what 'Hot Fuzz' cost. So we absolutely put everything on the screen." And the effects-filled, action-heaving film actually had a production schedule that was one week shorter than the one for "Hot Fuzz." The secret to making it work? More work for Wright.
"The only way that was possible was that I had to direct second unit on Saturdays and Sundays," he says. "So there were points in the movie where I directed for 20 days in a row without a day off — and I would do main unit and second unit, so I would start at eight in the morning, work through my lunch break and then all of a sudden do another four hours after the main cast had gone. And that was the only way to get through the schedule." He pauses, knits his brow. "I'm really just trying to get some sympathy here," he adds with a grin.
But while the amount of money available to him to make a movie has increased since "Shaun of the Dead" or even "Hot Fuzz," Wright still keeps frugality at the front of his mind. "Everything that I've done has always been really tight to the wire schedule-wise, budget-wise," he says. "The good thing about working with [the production company] Working Title is that they kind of leave you alone to make the movie on the basis that you keep under-budget and that you keep on schedule, which we did. And so then you can kind of do what you want. But believe me, I've never been in the position where I've felt like I'm having a money fight on set or something. I've never stood on the set and thrown dollars at people's faces."
Up next? "Ant Man"
Wright's next film is slated to be "Ant Man," his long-awaited entry in the Marvel universe and the introduction of a possible new Avenger. There's such a hunger for information about it, he explains, that some outlets get more creative with what qualifies as "news" about his future projects.
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"Sometimes news that's old news get repeated as a new exclusive," he says. "There was something that went around on the Internet recently that said, 'the Ant Man script is finished.' And I was thinking, 'I'm sure I said exactly that on the Scott Pilgrim tour three years ago.' I think it conjures up this image that I'm waiting by the phone to say, 'I've got some news! I've got some Ant Man news for you!' Which is not the case."