As AMC Theatres begins to reopen our doors and welcome audiences back to the magic of the big screen, one movie that fans have on their radar is the long awaited THE NEW MUTANTS. Based on the Marvel comics of the same name, the New Mutants were an X-Men spin-off that debuted in 1982 and introduced readers to a new group of teenage mutants. This comic series caught the attention of a young Josh Boone who after reading the comics as a kid would go to write and direct their film adaptation, which is set to release August 28. The film takes an unexpected venture from a typical superhero film as it explores horror elements with the group being held in a secret facility and finding themselves having to escape in order to save their lives.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Josh Boone to learn more about the film, the overall tones and inspirations behind it, and what he’s excited for audiences to see. In our conversation with Josh, one thing became very evident – he loves these characters and the comics in which they are based on and can’t wait for audiences to see his vision come to life on the big screen. His anticipation won’t have to last much longer, however, as fans can get their tickets to THE NEW MUTANTS now and see the film at AMC Theatres starting August 28! Here’s what he shared with us.
AMC Theatres: What’s been so invigorating hearing you talk about this movie is your level of passion for the source material. Can you describe what it was about THE NEW MUTANTS that made you such a fan?
Josh Boone: I wrote this movie with my best friend Knate Lee who grew up in Virginia Beach with me in the 1980s and our moms are best friends, so we’ve known each other really since we could speak. Marvel Comics was really everything that we cared about back then. But, I didn’t really care that much about New Mutants until Bill Sienkiewicz came on and started working with Chris Claremont. Before then, it was cool, but it just didn’t differentiate that much for me from X-Men titles until Bill came on. With the covers of these comics that he released in the mid-80s, you’ve never seen anything like them in superhero comics. They were these dark, fantastical, metaphysical paintings on the cover. The characters inside weren’t in costumes – they were just dressed up as regular kids. He pushed the frame of comics further in that time period that I’ve ever seen done. His art and his collaboration with Chris (Claremont) were the late marriage that captured my imagination and it stuck out from the rest of the pack. It was always something I automatically came back to when I thought if I ever got to do a big comic book movie, I would try and do New Mutants. I can still come talk to you about New Mutants three or four years after making this movie and it’s because how much I loved the comics when I was a kid.
AMC Theatres: As you mentioned, what sets this film apart from other comic book movies is the fantasy and horror elements. Can you explain as a filmmaker how you went about creating the tone and balancing the different genres together for this movie?
Josh Boone: I didn’t think of it so much like that - I just knew I wanted to shoot everything as practically as possible and wanted to go shoot in a real location. I went and got Peter Deming who’s one of my favorite cinematographers and shoots all of David Lynch’s projects. I really didn’t want it to look like another comic book movie, but almost like a horror movie from the 90s. It just doesn’t have the feel of a big superhero movie in that way. It’s so grounded and focused on the characters and it becomes sort of a big superhero movie in the last act. The thing that made it tonally different were the horror aspects and the fantasy elements, but I feel like those things already play and they’re just leaning them a little bit more towards the darkness than a Marvel movie would. Another thing that made it so different was the focus on the characters. It kind of has a John Hughes vibe in that way, mixed with the humor of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, which all feeds into the things that I like and enjoy.
AMC Theatres: This movie has had a few release dates, but is now in the unique position where it’s among the first new movies to open in theatres since the theatergoing experience has essentially been closed since March. As a filmmaker, how does it feel that your movie in a way is welcoming audiences back to movie theatres?
Josh Boone: I didn’t plan for a real pandemic to happen and I didn’t plan to make a movie for this time period where the characters are trapped in a place they can’t get out of, sort of like we all are. None of these things were intentional, but it seems like a good time for it to open in that regard. I never worried so much about how long it took for it to come out, mainly because I was able to finish the movie the way I wanted to finish it by doing this waiting game. But more importantly, I just don’t think there’s another movie like it. I think even though it’s taken a couple of years, there’s not another movie that’s come out that’s beat us to it or has done what we did first. I think with that novelty element of it being really different from these typical movies of the same vein makes it unique and special, no matter when we release it. I feel like I’m glad that people get to see it big. The hope was always that we could show it on IMAX screens because the intimate character stuff is so in a different feeling even with bigger and when you get to the end and actually get to see the Demon Bear, it was always intended to be seen on the big screen in that way. The bear is massive, and I needed the biggest frame and the biggest screen that I could get to fit him all in, so seeing the movie in a theatre is definitely the best way to see it.
AMC Theatres: Movies of this kind are always better when experienced in a theatre. Is there a particular scene you’re most looking forward to having that theatrical experience for?
Josh Boone: I’m of two minds because of the kinds of movies that I really like. I’m really excited for audiences to see the climactic battle with the Demon Bear and to see all of these visual effects that we haven’t been able to really show off yet. Lockheed is a part of it, so that’s really exciting. But I’m most excited for people to see these two girls (Blu Hunt and Maisie Williams) go lay underneath this dome of stars at night and just talk. I know that sounds weird, but that was a special scene and I really like seeing these girls connect on the screen.
AMC Theatres: I’m sure you’re thrilled to introduce all of these characters, but can you share which one you’re most excited to bring to the big screen?
Josh Boone: Oh god, don’t make me choose! I love all these characters and I think they’re all wonderful. I’m really excited the most though about the female characters. The movie is driven by these female cast members in a way that should be satisfying for females to go see the movie. The guys in the movie have serious backstories and great acting moments too, but I wanted to use them a bit like the way that girls are typically used in movies like this and sort of reverse it. Henry Zaga (Roberto da Costa/Sunspot) is like our “pretty girl” and so there’s those sorts of twists on it. I think those three girls are interesting and I haven’t seen characters in big tentpole movies like this, so I’m most excited for everybody to get to meet them. They’ll love the guys as well, and while I love them all, the girls are really front and center.
AMC Theatres: You really assembled such an incredible cast for this movie. Can you talk about working with this group?
Josh Boone: We had some of these actors on board for up to a year before we went and made it – Maisie Williams (Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Illyana Rasputin/Magik) in particular. We were certain they were going to play these parts and there couldn’t be anybody better. It was a longer process with finding Blu Hunt (Danielle Moonstar/Mirage). If we hadn’t had found her, I don’t necessarily know if we’d be able to make the movie because the whole movie hinges on her. It was really of upmost importance to us that we found somebody that had a real connection to a tribe and reservation. Blu Hunt really blew us away – I had her come in and read with Maisie and the scene that they tested for was the scene where they kissed. We looked at like 300 takes from people around the country and Blu just really had that magical essence and you rub your feelings together, I can’t tell you what it is, but she just had it.
AMC Theatres: With the horror vibe and that tone, are there any specific movies that influenced your take on this project?
Josh Boone: Most specifically, I think probably NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS. It’s kids trapped in a psychiatric hospital and Freddy Krueger’s in there with him, so that was a jumping off point in figuring out how to contain New Mutants and Demon Bear inside of a genre film. So that and John Hughes films were really what we leaned on – those character driven, teen films – and really trying to combine those elements. Also, we got influence from GIRL, INTERRUPTED and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and institutional dramas of those kinds. Alice Braga sort of played our Nurse Ratched in a lot of ways and is certainly the Jack Nicholson of the group.