Christmas comes early as writer/director Wes Anderson sneak previews his melancholy holiday comedy The Royal Tenenbaums at the New York Film Festival today at Lincoln Center.
It's a rare instance of a studio (in this case, Disney's Touchstone Pictures) being willing to risk the critical exposure of a showing like this so early before its release date — the film isn't due in theaters until Dec. 26 — but Anderson says it was his plan to premiere the film at the festival all along.
(Touchstone Pictures is owned by the Walt Disney Co., as are ABC and Mr. Showbiz.)
New York the ‘Best Place’ to Premiere the Film
"It's a New York movie, and this seemed the place to do it. To me it's the best place to start," Anderson said after the well-received critics' screening. "I try to go to every movie every year [at the festival]. I love the New York Film Festival, and so it was something I had in mind before we even started shooting the movie [last winter]. There's something nice about having a plan two years ago and actually following through on it."
Anderson co-wrote Tenenbaums with his buddy, actor Owen Wilson, with whom he also co-wrote the quirky indies Bottle Rocket and Rushmore.
Gene Hackman stars in the film as Royal Tenenbaum, the patriarch of a brilliant but dysfunctional Manhattan family that includes his wife (Anjelica Huston), adopted daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow), two sons (Luke Wilson and Ben Stiller), and houseman Pagoda (Koomar Palanda, an Anderson regular).
Royal Family Owes a Debt to Salinger
Tenenbaums, which was screened with a temporary musical track, evoked comparisons to Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons and J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey, two works about troubled families. Anderson acknowledged that reclusive author Salinger was "definitely one of the inspirations," citing Salinger's Glass family stories.
"The whole family of geniuses is pretty much from that," says Anderson. "Also [I was inspired by] the sadness, the melancholy we associate with a lot of Salinger ['s writing]."
The recent tragedy in New York is still on everyone's minds, but wasn't mentioned by Anderson in discussing Tenenbaums, which he admits is an idealized version of the metropolis. "I'm from Texas," he said, "so my whole feeling about New York is, I guess, kinda romanticized, but I've lived here three or four years or so."
Anderson also revealed that he had to digitally remove some footage from the film, but not for the reason you think. The director decided that the character of Eli's son (Owen Wilson) was "unnecessary … There were two shots that had Eli's family in them, and in a way you can't [establish] a family in two shots," he said.