We expected the producer of two of the world's highest-grossing films to be a little less casually dressed, but Jon Landau greeted us with a warm smile, dressed in a jeans and a blue shirt. He even shifted heavy sofas around in his suite to make sure we're comfortable and have the right amount of light to click him with his beloved Oscar trophy.
The 51-year-old producer's first trip to India with his wife was not just for pleasure, he was also looking at exploring the country as a market for film distribution. "I am not scouting for locations in India to shoot. I am looking to understand the film industry in India and the distribution network of Hollywood films. I think India is one of the largest growing markets, and is emerging as a big player for distribution. Screens have increased here and everything is really exciting. India probably ranks in the top 12 big markets for films in the world. People have evolved and so has technology, and they would want to witness a better theatre experience which is unlike their plasmas and LCDs at home," he said.
Jon had also planned a trip to Agra to see what is on every foreigner's to-do list in India - the Taj Mahal. "You cannot come to India and not go to see the Taj Mahal. I want to learn more about it," said the producer, adding, "This is my first trip to India and I have come with a very open mind. It is how you should travel around the world. What makes up a country is not the things you read, but the people you meet there. That's what I've enjoyed the most - meeting the people here."
Another purpose of this trip was to promote the 3D version of " Titanic", the highest grossing film in history after " Avatar" (also produced by Landau). Jon felt that people will watch "Titanic" in 3D because it will be a whole new experience. He discarded the notion that for those who have watched the film before, paying for a ticket to watch the 3D version doesn't make sense. "People will watch "Titanic" in 3D again because it's a different experience. People listen to music at home but they still go for concerts. So, they might watch the film at home on cable, but going to a theatre is like seeing the concert of the movie. I feel there is a generation of moviegoers that hasn't seen "Titanic" on the big screen, and those who have seen it will have a new experience," he said.
Both "Titanic" and "Avatar" have been big-budget films, but Jon said he isn't apprehensive about investing in big-budget films because for one, it isn't his own money he's investing, but he feels responsible towards the studio that invests the money in the films. "We are
lucky, we invest the studio's money, not our own, but we treat it as our own money and feel a great deal of responsibility to return them their investment, and then some more," he said.
He adds that a film's success or failure doesn't depend on the cast or the people making the film, it is all about the script and the story. "It's not about the scale or the scope. If Jim ( James Cameron) creates "Avatar", and if people accept it, it's because of the film and its story, not because of the people behind it," he said.
The producer was present for the Mumbai screening of "Titanic" in 3D, even though he had issues with his visa and had to postpone his trip to India by a day. He said, "We thought that giving a two-week notice for a visa was enough, but we were off by one day. But after I landed in Mumbai, we screenedthe film there and then we came to Delhi. Unfortunately, after Agra, I won't have enough time to visit other locations in India."
When we asked about the rest of the cast and crew of "Titanic", Jon told us, "The cast is busy working on other projects. Leo ( Leonardo DiCaprio) is busy working on a film with Quentin Tarantino. Jim was recently out in the Pacific Ocean where he was diving to the deepest point in the ocean - the Mariana Trench. Unfortunately, I am not that adventurous."
Right now his focus is on the two sequels of "Avatar". "We are making two sequels and we will release them one year apart. The cast that lived in the first film will feature in the sequels," he said.
And with that he bid us goodbye, and carefully picked up his Oscar and got ready to leave, which led us to ask him a slightly random question. Would he sell his Oscar if he became poor?" And pat came the reply, "Never. I would never sell my Oscar, my kids or my wife if I became poor."
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