Point Break Producers Talk the Challenges of the Remake and Blade Runner 2

The producers of the Point Break remake talk their new film, the legacy of the original, and their upcoming Blade Runner sequel.

Point Break is a remake of the 1991 movie that used surfing and skydiving to elevate the undercover cop thriller to new heights. 24 years later, the new Point Break has taken on every extreme sport developed since, including wingsuit proximity flight, motocross, free climbing, and snowboarding. Even surfing gets a boost with tow-in surfing for bigger waves.

We sat down with Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, the producers of Point Break and who also happen to be producing the untitled Blade Runner sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve. The duo walked us through some of the aspects of Point Break, including hiring athletes like Jeb Corliss and Chris Sharma to perform the film’s most extreme stunts.

The first Point Break was at Fox. How did you move it to Warner Brothers?

Andrew Kosove: That’s Chris Taylor, who’s a producing partner of ours. The first movie though was not owned by Fox. It was owned by a company called Largo, which was an independently financed production company that was backed by JVC. Remember those big handheld recorders back in the day?

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So Largo owned the rights and Chris Taylor worked there. When Largo went away, he somehow got his hands on the rights. The truth is, the background of this is Chris actually had come to me and Broderick a number of times about Point Break and we had said no and no and no, because there were other versions of it that weren’t interesting to us.

When he brought this version to us, there were issues we wanted to work on initially. We saw something very interesting about the idea in saying it’s a continuation in a lot of ways of the first film because it takes the groundwork of the first film and takes it into 2015 and we thought that was kind of interesting. That’s how we got involved but the rights belonged to this company Largo.

What do you think has kept Point Break alive all these years? Do Point Break Live and the Hot Fuzz references help?

Broderick Johnson: I think having done this long enough, we’ve had these movies where it’s hard to do, but where something magical happens when you’re making a movie and it really comes together. I think for that time and place, it’s really about the characters Swayze and Keanu created. I think they had a real resonance with people and stood the test of time.

I think the movie’s popularity is just one of those things with movies that work. It’s sustained itself and also, the truth is, and this happens a number of ways with a lot of movies, there have been a lot of movies that have been copies of Point Break. So the challenge of this movie was not to be accused of copying someone that already copied the movie also. That’s one of the challenges.

Andrew: Why do you think it’s stayed in the consciousness? Because I don’t really know. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know.

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I think for me, Hot Fuzz really brought it back, and since I’m a pop culture guy, I think those things really help. But you’re right, it’s the talent. It’s that Keanu and Patrick went on to do so much, that Kathryn Bigelow went on to do so much that people kept revisiting “where did this talent come from?”

Andrew: For me, the most interesting aspect of the first movie is you could see the promise of Kathryn Bigelow in that film. The fact that Kathryn Bigelow has gone on to become one of the great directors in the world, if you go back and you look at that film, you can see things in it.

Broderick: You understand it.

Andrew: You’re like, you know what, for its time, that was a really inventively, energetically shot film. I think just as someone who works in the film business, that’s the most interesting aspect, is seeing a filmmaker who was still clearly very much at the beginning of her career and finding herself, and yet at the same time having flashes of brilliance. Because the original Point Break is a flawed movie. I’ll speak for myself very honestly, it’s not Michael Mann’s Heat which is truly brilliant.

It’s a good movie. It’s not a masterpiece.

Andrew: It’s not a masterpiece but there are some things in it where you see the work of a future master, which is what Kathryn Bigelow became. That, to me, is historically very interesting.

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Did you ever reach out to Keanu for a cameo of any sort?

Andrew: Do you know what? This is the thing. We did and we didn’t.

Keanu said something very nice in the press if you saw that recently about the movie. He was excited for the remake and so on and so forth. I think we didn’t want to disrespect the original movie by doing something that was kitschy.

For better or worse, you saw the movie, we didn’t try to out-kitsch the original picture. We didn’t know how to do that honestly and that wasn’t what we tried to do. What we tried to do was take the themes of the movie but tell it in a different kind of way, explore some different elements. So the fact that Keanu said the nice things he did was very nice but we didn’t feel it was respectful to try to be kitschy with the first one.

Are you open to the further adventures of Johnny Utah?

Broderick: Beyond this film? The audience will tell us that. If the movie’s a hit movie, I think maybe so.

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Andrew: I’ll tell you why I’m skeptical about it, honestly. I wouldn’t know how to make an in camera continuation of this movie. I think we did the boundary of what could be done without doing something where you’re really putting people’s lives in jeopardy and I’m not sure how we’d outdo ourselves.

Broderick: Yeah, it would be a challenging story to come up with because of what we did.

Andrew: That was the whole point of this movie is what people will get to see is for real. I don’t quite know how to do it again.

Could it be another 20 years before there’s more extreme sports that take it to the next level?

Broderick: Maybe.

Andrew: I’ve got two children. My younger son is absolutely enthralled and fascinated by Parkour. If you watch these videos on YouTube where people are what they call extreme urban adventures where they’ll climb to the top of something and take pictures of that nature, that’s kind of a different story that might be interesting to explore in a different kind of a way, but that to me is the next generation of what’s happening now in terms of people doing these stunts in an urban environment.

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What is also fascinating, it is incredibly interesting to me about what has happened in the 25 years since the original Point Break that has made these sports so much more in the mainstream for people. Not that they do them but they watch them. I think a big part of it is the fact that with YouTube and these shortform videos, traditionally sports on TV have to be very specific to television. Basketball, football, they lend themselves. These types of things aren’t for TV but if you can go on YouTube and watch a four minute clip, it’s enthralling. All of a sudden, you have 45 million people watch Jeb fly through the crack in Walenstadt, Switzerland.

I think it’s become much more part of the consciousness and therefore maybe you’ll be correct. Maybe there will be future adventures.

Broderick: Yeah, I recently saw some different form of surfing. I forget exactly what it was.

Andrew: Night surfing.

Broderick: Night surfing and it was also a different kind of board. I think people are very inventive. Like you say, 20 years from now I think there’ll be a whole new set of things that people are trying to do.

I appreciate that so much of the movie was done for real, but was insurance difficult on this?

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Andrew: Everything was.

Broderick: Everything was more difficult.

Andrew: Everything.

Broderick: We gave a bunch of speeches at the start of photography. The main thing on the movie was safety, so in every regard, to some extent, these athletes were guiding us as far as what could go wrong, what’s safe, this, that and the other. You’re not only shooting the movie in whatever your principal location is but you’re prepping the next part of it in a different country and you have multiple units going. It’s probably the most logistically difficult movie we’ll ever do by far.

Andrew: I hope so. If not, let me know how it goes. I’ll come to the premiere. So the answer is yes, insurance was certainly, because by the way, we don’t have stunt people really in the movie. Chris Sharma’s the greatest solo free climber in the world. Jeb Corliss is the greatest wingsuit pilot in the world. They were leading the stunt work because stunt people don’t do these acts.

Broderick: It’s funny, some of the more basic action stuff, there were stunt people but none of the extraordinary stuff that you see.

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You say you hope this is the most logistically difficult movie you ever have to do. Do you not expect Blade Runner 2 to be logistically difficult?

Broderick: It’s a different exercise.

Andrew: That movie is complex in other ways, but in terms of logistics, look, by its very nature, a film like Blade Runner is a world creation picture. You’re creating a unique world like Ridley did in the first film and like we’re going to do with Denis and Roger in the sequel. When I’m talking about logistics, in the real life of moving a film crew and equipment off the top of Angel Falls to the top of the Jungfrau, or flying in formation four people at 140 miles an hour in proximity suits through the crack in Walenstadt, that’s real logistics.

I guess what I’m saying to you, Fred, is when you’re doing something where you’re in a stage environment, there’s a sense of control. On a backlot you’re controlling the environment. When you’re on the top of a mountain, the mountain doesn’t give a shit if you’re making a movie.

Broderick: Or you’re chasing waves all over the world and you have a unit that’s literally on a 48 hour standby to fly anywhere in the world, to then setup and get a particular wave, that’s a different level. You’re trying to do it on budget and safely, that’s a different level of logistics than any of these superhero movies or even world creation movies. It’s just different. Blade Runner is just an artistic challenge.

Can it be as contemplative as the original was or is there pressure to make it more of an action movie?

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Andrew: The answer to that is we won’t get into any details on that other than to say, to be as contemplative as the original film? Absolutely.

Broderick: Yes, the answer is yes.

Andrew: It’s a one word answer.

Broderick: It has the same DNA as the first movie which was very important to us, which is why Hampton and Ridley and the people involved are still involved and helped create this world.

One more on that. It’s still Untitled Blade Runner Project. Is the title likely to include the words Blade Runner?

Andrew: No comment. Fred, here’s the thing, you will know very shortly what the answer is, but no comment today.

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Oh, do you have an announcement planned?

Andrew: There will be an announcement coming up, absolutely.

Broderick: When we’re ready to announce, give him a call and let him know it’s coming.

Andrew: I think realistically, given that we only have really three business weeks in the year, I would say realistically, I’m comfortable saying in the first quarter of next year. Maybe in the first half of the first quarter of next year, first six weeks of the year. 

Point Break opens on December 25th.