“I thought Disney+ was the way to go because every kid in America would be stuck indoors or at least a five-kilometer radius of his home. Maybe it would be nice of Disney to make this gesture and put out the movie so that kids would have some new product to watch.”
Eoin Colfer – Author, Artemis Fowl
We all owe author Eoin (pronounced Owen) Colfer a collective virtual hug for suggesting to Walt Disney Pictures that perhaps they should release Artemis Fowl on Disney+ after the coronavirus became a global crisis.
In an interview with Laughing Place from his home in Ireland, Colfer confides that when the pandemic started to stretch across Europe, he feverishly emailed his Disney contacts about releasing the movie on Disney+.
After riding the on-again, off-again see-saw for his project, Colfer did not want to wait any longer to have the movie see the light of day. While the planned big screen adaptation of his beloved book is headed directly to Disney’s streaming service, Colfer admits it is not the format he was hoping for but adds it is better to get the movie out there than to get shelved for at least two years if not longer where it would face an uncertain future.
“With all the cartoon-to-live action and Marvel films to be released,” Colfer observed he thought it would be a good idea “to get ahead of the posse, be the first one” to shift to the streaming service. “When they called me, I was pleased,” smiles the author during a Zoom video interview earlier this week.
But he stresses the decision was not without disappointment. “Would I have liked to attend a premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre wearing my green tuxedo? I had it all planned out,” Colfer says admitting that he indeed had purchased a green tux to wear to the Hollywood premiere. He says his disappointment lasted about two days before he focused on the Disney+ release.
Delighted with Disney’s decision, the streaming service premiere on June 12th caps a 20-year-long journey to get his book from the page to the screen. Colfer sold the movie rights to Artemis Fowl in 2000 to Miramax anxious to see production commence immediately. “I was very naïve. I thought well because they tell you everyone is really excited about this, it’s their top priority. So we thought this is gonna be made next year. “
Convinced it was going to happen sooner as opposed to later, Colfer convinced his Dad to travel with him around Ireland with an old VHS video camera to record possible shooting locations. “First of all to think that they were going to look at the video and second of all that it was going to be made that summer, I was in fairy-land, I think, ”Colfer admits.
Anxious to see his book move forward, Colfer invested a lot of energy in the project. “I corresponded with the studios, various people, but after about three or four years, I realized this is not gonna happen. So I got off the road and said you guys, you got the rights, do whatever happens, but I am not going to put energy into it” as Colfer described his frustration.
“If you are a young writer in your 30’s and you’re told your book is going to be a Disney movie, that then becomes your focus to make sure since it can be made as good as it can be,” but Colfer adds when he hit his the late 30’s his priorities shifted and he told the studios to make the movie and he would focus on his writing. But it wasn’t until 2012 when director Peter Sheridan signed onto the project and asked Colfer to help write the screenplay but again the process fizzled out. “One day we were smoking, everyone loved it and then the next day we couldn’t get anyone to answer the calls or answer our emails.”
Enter stage right when actor-director Sir Kenneth Branagh in 2017 called Colfer and asked to him lunch to talk about Artemis Fowl. Cautiously optimistic that Branagh could get the project moving again, the author met the filmmaker thinking what is the worst that can come out of it, “I met Kenneth Branagh and I can go home and tell my drama friends that I had lunch with Kenneth Branagh,” the writer laughs.
With the launch set, Colfer says he thinks they did a good job bringing his characters to life. “I think it is a very good movie. It is very different in places to the story in the first book, but most of it was necessary.” Colfer concedes there are things in the movie that would not work in the book and there are elements in the book that would not work in the film.
Don’t look for Colfer on Twitter, Instagram, or other social media in the next few weeks to gauge the reaction of fans. “I am pulling the plug, drop off for a few weeks to enjoy the experience,” Colfer notes. He takes exception to people who are already posting reviews online based solely on the trailers for the movie.
As for what is next? With eight Artemis Fowl books and two novellas, Colfer laughs that by today’s movie standards he has about 25 movies waiting to be made. But for now, he is going to sit back and relax and enjoy the ride which has taken him two decades to reach this chapter in his life.