The 10 year anniversary of director Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend just passed in December, the Will Smith-starring film of course an adaptation of Richard Matheson’s same-named novella. The film was a smash hit at the box office, raking in $585 million worldwide, but what does Lawrence think about his work, ten years later?
Distance always helps to bring honest clarity, and in a chat with Screen Rant this week, Lawrence opened up about the approach he *wishes* he had taken to the adaptation.
“Looking back at it now, I think that we could have just done basically the story of the novella straight up and made the same amount of money in terms of ticket sales because people went I think for the last man on earth,” Lawrence told the site. “They would have accepted the nihilistic ending, they would have accepted vampires instead of people with infections.”
He continued, “We could have literally made the book, which I would have been much happier with, but you know when you’re spending that much money you’re panicking that you’re making this weird little kind of art film about a guy alone with a dog in New York and you’re trying to you know sort of create that spectacle.”
What Lawrence is essentially saying here is that, in hindsight, he wishes he had gone smaller with the 2007 adaptation. The pressure to turn the novella into a massive Hollywood tentpole seems to have dictated most of the creative decisions that were made on the project, which Lawrence doesn’t seem too thrilled about.
Reading Lawrence’s comments on I Am Legend, I can’t help but think about what Universal was attempting to do with their monster-filled Dark Universe. While most horror fans have been begging for smaller, scarier monster movies, Universal has been aiming for four-quadrant blockbusters, which hasn’t been turning out so well for them.
There’s something to be said for “weird little kind of art films,” as Lawrence describes. After all, think about what Universal would’ve done with Creature from the Black Lagoon. And then look at what Guillermo del Toro did with it for his own The Shape of Water.
Take notes, Universal. Please take notes.