After “The Crow” and “Dark City”, Alex Proyas changes style and signs “I, Robot”, a summer blockbuster worn by Will Smith. A painful and conflicting experience for the director, who has difficulty in combining with the demands of Fox.
I, Robot : artificial intelligence rebels
The plot ofI, Robot is based on the work of the writer Isaac Asimov, inventor of the laws of robotics, as well as on the concept of a script by Jeff Vintar entitled Hardwired, in which a robot murders a human. Released in 2004, Alex Proyas’ feature film is set in Chicago in 2035.
A policeman traumatized by a terrible accident, Del Spooner (Will Smith) loathes artificial intelligence. A few days before the marketing of his new robot model for the company USR, the creator Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) dies after falling from his office at the top of the building of the firm. Shortly before his death, he records a video asking Spooner, with whom he had befriended, to take charge of the investigation.
Very quickly, the inspector refutes the thesis of suicide. His suspicions are heightened when one of the last USR prototypes named Sonny (Alan Tudyk) flees after being found at the scene of the possible crime. With the help of robopsychologist Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), Spooner will try to understand Sonny’s motivations, who appears to be experiencing emotions and experiencing feelings.
Bruce Greenwood, Chi McBride and Shia LaBeouf round out the cast ofI, Robot. Raising more than $ 353 million in worldwide revenue, the film is a box office success. A commercial success which, however, does not make Alex Proyas want to continue working with Fox.
Lots of interference between Alex Proyas and I, Robot
Third feature film by the filmmaker, I, Robot adopts a tone and a much more consensual turn than The Crow and Dark City. The presence of Will Smith is obviously not unrelated to the fact that the film takes the shape of a summer blockbuster, but this is not the only reason. Alex Proyas faces the demands and remarks of 20th Century Fox. Then directed by Tom Rothman, the studio asks him in particular toinsert more jokes, like he entrusts it to the site CHUD in 2009.
I, Robot was not a special case within Fox at the time, since feature films like Daredevil Where Die Hard 4: Return to Hell, to name a few, are relieved of certain scenes in order to mitigate the violence in order to reach a wider audience. A situation that Alex Proyas saw on the set ofI, Robot, which is why he refused to work with 20th Century Fox afterwards.
When a rumor claiming that the filmmaker is at the helm of Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer begins to circulate, he denies by assuring that he would never have considered doing it anyway, despite his attachment to superheroes. He affirms to MTV in 2008 :
Because it’s a Fox movie. And I am determined to never work with them again because of my experience on I, Robot.
Towards an extension of Dark City ?
A year later, for the release of the disaster film Predictions, in which Nicolas Cage tries to prevent future cataclysms, Alex Proyas reconsiders his remarks. Asked by Den of Geek, he explains that he is not against the idea of working again one day with Fox, adding:
It’s not that I’m opposed to the studio. It is the regime, the people who currently run it who are totally… let’s say: they are not the friends of the filmmakers. And I’m not the only one to say that.
Since then, Alex Proyas has experienced a crushing business failure with the indescribable and memorable Gods of Egypt. With a budget of $ 140 million according to IMDb, the film only grossed $ 150.6 million at the global box office, of which only $ 31 million was in the United States. The director then focused on three short films, far from the big studios, produced with his company Mystery Clock Cinema : Phobos, Strange Nostalgia and Mask of the Evil Apparition. The latter is part of the universe of Dark City, which Alex Proyas would like to develop in the future through a series. In a discussion for the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, Alex Proyas said, quoted by Bloody Disgusting and Large screen :
Dark City is currently capturing my full attention, because we are in the middle of developing a series Dark City. (…) I have to re-analyze everything in order to build a whole new story. I have to …