NEW YORK (Reuters) - Director Danny Boyle made his name making British films for U.K. audiences, but with “Slumdog Millionaire” Boyle has taken his show to India and the United States hoping to propel his new movie to global success.
Boyle, famous for unconventional storytelling in films such as drug drama “Trainspotting” and zombie flick “28 Days Later,” told Reuters that working in India and telling a story about Indians with a mostly local cast made “Slumdog” seem “fresh.”
That freshness is now paying off as “Slumdog,” the tale of a poor boy who gets a shot at winning millions in a television game show, has earned rave reviews at festivals in Telluride, Colorado and Toronto, and even Oscar buzz in Hollywood. It debuts in major U.S. cities on Wednesday.
Moreover, Boyle was frustrated by the release of his recent sci-fi adventure “Sunshine,” which was seen first in Britain. A poor showing at British box offices gave “Sunshine” little momentum as it rolled into U.S. theaters, a critical market for financial success where it earned only $3.6 million.
“I had always wanted my films released in Britain because I am from there,” he said. “(But) you learn that this (the U.S.) is a much better market to monitor how a film is going to do.
“It is all or nothing in the U.K. and we did it all and it (“Sunshine”) did very little. It didn’t do well and they blamed it on that,” he said.
“Slumdog” is scheduled to land in U.K. theaters fully two months after it begins its run in the United States.
The movie was written by Simon Beaufoy (“The Full Monty”), and it is based on the bestselling novel “Q & A,” about a boy named Jamal who appears on India’s equivalent of game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
As the game plays out in front of tens of millions of TV viewers, Boyle takes audiences on a journey through Jamal’s life, growing up in the slums, being orphaned as a child and having to get build a life on hard work, ingenuity and luck.
He grows up with his brother, Salim, and an orphaned girl Latika, with whom he falls in love. The “three musketeers,” as they call themselves, are forced to separate as young teens but are reunited when Jamal appears on the show.
The movie not only tells a fantastical story with millions of dollars at stake, it gives audiences a glimpse of modern India and offers a touch of romance between Jamal (Dev Patel) and Latika (Freida Pinto).
The original story may not be the director’s, but the filmmaking style is pure Boyle with flashy, frenetic cinematography, an electronic soundtrack blending pop tunes and traditional Indian sounds, and a story of youthful characters.
Boyle, 52, had never been to India and initially felt daunted by making “Slumdog” in a foreign country. But he added that once there, he “kind of fell in love with the place.”
The director also said that when he overcame his initial “panic” of being outside his normal boundaries and routines, he saw “Slumdog” as starting his career anew.
“I have got this theory: your first film is the best film you ever make because you don’t know what you are doing really,” he said. “(It) is something great to work with because it’s fresh.”
editing by Bob Tourtellotte