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Joel Silver talks us through ‘Superfly’s’ intense production

The legendary producer has been trying to get the remake made for 20 years
Trevor Jackson in SuperFly
[Image: Sony Pictures]

Joel Silver has been trying to get a remake of Superfly made for the last 20 years.

This gave the legendary producer of “Lethal Weapon,” “Die Hard,” “Predator” and “The Matrix” plenty of time to figure out exactly what he wanted to incorporate, modernize and adapt from the 1972 cult crime classic, which revolves around a cocaine dealer trying to escape the underworld drug business. 

But nothing could have prepared Silver for the lightning quick turnaround of production once the film was officially greenlit. 

“We started shooting in January and the movie opens tomorrow,” Silver recently explained to me. That’s just over 5 months from the first day of filming to "SuperFly" hitting cinemas. Which when you consider that most other films of this size are shot at least a year, sometimes 18 months, before they’re released, makes "SuperFly" a movie miracle. 

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“That was Tom Rothman. Sony said that if we can get the movie out this summer, and you can make it for the right price, and you can make it right away, let’s do it. And we said, ‘OK'."

"He just gave me a date for the movie of June 15. Which was a good date. People do that now. They look at the calendar and figure out the best date for a movie like this and then try to get it ready for then.”

Thankfully for “SuperFly” Silver already knew exactly what he wanted, as he had long sought the “best music video director out there at the moment, who could give the movie credibility.”

That filmmaker was Director X, who had worked with Rihanna, Drake, Jamie Foxx, Wiz Khalifa, and Kendrick Lemar to name but a few, and, as you’d expect, Silver couldn’t help but wax lyrical about what he brought to the film. 

“X is a very stylish guy. He has a great sense of style of design. I loved how he had worked with the artists that he had worked with and how he moved the camera. Plus I thought he could tell a good story. Like me, he wanted to use Atlanta, and make it feel like the centre for the culture, too, which was important.’”

It was very important, because the city of Atlanta is basically a character in a movie. In fact, Silver even called “SuperFly" a love letter to the bustling metropolis. 

“It is a valentine to the city of Atlanta. Because Atlanta is an intoxicating, incredibly exciting place right right now. The music, the food, the culture, the clothes, it is just a great kind of vibrant city."

"I’ve shot a lot of movies in Atlanta, a lot of the Marvel movies are shot in Atlanta, but they’re not using Atlanta for Atlanta. This movie is about Atlanta, it is Atlanta and it is because of Atlanta.”

And while Silver admits that the nearly impossible time constraints meant they didn’t “have a lot of time to get what they wanted,” and instead had to just “hope they got what they wanted,” he is still immensely happy with the film they have made. 

“I really think we have delivered on so many levels. I am proud of how we pulled it off. I think the audience will get a kick out of it. There’s a lot of things happening, there’s a lot of scenes occurring, and they flow together pretty well. It gives a varied sense of the period and the culture of the movie.”

You can now judge for yourself whether “SuperFly” achieves just that, as it has just been released into cinemas.