Peter Berg talks BATTLESHIP, sequel to RUNDOWN and HANCOCK

GATW Guest Writer

December 3rd, 2009

Peter Berg

(This post has been updated.)

Peter Berg is one of those guys that I feel is extremely talented, but has started to slip as of recent. Many people are still having a tough time forgiving him for the poor second half of HANCOCK. The film was a box-office success, but didn't do well critically (the movie currently sits at 40 on the tomatometer.) Despite all that, HANCOCK 2 is still in development, along with a possible follow up to RUNDOWN. With a busy plate, Berg has still managed to add one more film, a board game adaptation. The project in which I am speaking is the toy-to-film-adaptation, BATTLESHIP.

BATTLESHIP? How in the world was one going to take a simple board game of strategy into a box-office hit? To Berg, the answer was quite simple: aliens. Heck, I guess it is quite rare for a extra-terrestrial driven film to do poorly in theaters. DISTRICT 9 just proved that audiences love themselves some good sci-fi warfare. But how does one make an alien centered BATTLESHIP film without simply turning it into a galactic chess game? Peter Berg knows that these questions are currently haunting his project, so in attempt to clear some things up, he recently invited a select group of reporters to visit with him on board the very real battleship, the USS Sterett. Check out what he had to say about BATTLESHIP, RUNDOWN, and HANCOCK after the jump (Beware, the interview is quite long, but it does bring a lot of light upon the projects.)

Berg: I was getting ready to make a film on Navy SEALS and I spent a lot of time with Navy SEALS…about a month and a half in Iraq, really moving in that direction. BATTLESHIP came up and it's something that our company optioned about a year and a half ago and was sort of on the slow burner, was not being fast tracked. The plan was to do LONE SURVIVOR. My plan was to do LONE SURVIVOR first and then take a look at BATTLESHIP. We'd had a concept but it was not as developed as I wanted. So I sat down with Derek and John and we had a series of very long meetings and decided that we would commit to this concept and that we'd take on…and attempt to do that as credible and intelligent as we possibly could and also then to make sure that we had a good script for the U.S. Navy. I've grown up as a son of a Navel Destroyer so I was a pretty fan of destroyers.

Berg: The goal was to put up something that could exist as a big, dynamic, entertaining summer blockbuster. That's clearly what you aspire to make when you take on something like 'Battleship' and I think we're well on our way. I want to share a few pictures with you guys of the enemy, pictures of what the enemy is going to look like. Nobody has seen these…but the enemy does come from another planet. That's not news. It's true, you guys uncovered it first. We tried to keep it a secret, but it's our goal to make that as intelligent and logical, certainly as DISTRICT 9 was able to do. But to provide a real intelligence to our opponent, a logic, a rationale for being there and not purely hostile, violent creatures bent on global destruction. They've got a much more logical agenda planned that happens to come into conflict with us. Then there's a chance for two relatively equal opponents to go at each other and you get a sense of some of the equipment you saw, the level and intelligence of that character of what modern sailors are today.

LR: Is there an explanation as to why it takes place on the sea?

Berg: Absolutely.

LR: With this idea for the aliens, was that conceived by Hasbro for their 'Battleship Galaxies' game?

Berg: There was no studio mandate to do it. There was no Hasbro mandate to do it. There's been very little mandate from anyone. The film is going to live or die basically on the creative team. We're not getting any mandates from the studio other than, "Go out and make the best film you can." They've supported us tremendously. I think the first thing was that I asked them if they were going to go after this and be put in an arena where we would compete with films like DISTRICT 9, like WAR OF THE WORLDS, like THE ABYSS. We needed the resources and right now that generally leads to ILM. They do the best work. They've got the best designers. They're really smart guys. That was our first hire. We've got great designers at ILM and these guys are so scientific and so logic oriented and they're the ultimate nerd scholars. These guys geek out harder than anyone…like we're trying to do. These guys can pull this off to the very high standards.

LR: Is this an invasion or just something where the aliens are testing their technology against ours?

Berg: There's a group of life forms from some other planet have come to our planet for something. They've got a very specific agenda. That agenda is not global domination. It's an agenda and that agenda puts them into conflict with members of our military

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