All aboard! Last month, I attended the Sony Pictures Animation (SPA) Press Day in Culver City (CA), with a special presentation highlighting the studio’s upcoming animated slate, including HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION.
This is the third installment of the successful franchise Hotel Transylvania. This time around we will join them as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. It’s smooth sailing for Drac’s Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION sails into theaters on July 13th. The voice stars are Adam Sandler (Dracula), Andy Samberg (Johnny), Selena Gomez (Mavis), Kevin James (Frank), David Spade (Griffin), Steve Buscemi (Wayne), Keegan-Michael Key (Murray), Molly Shannon (Wanda), Fran Drescher (Eunice), Jim Gaffigan (Van Helsing), and Mel Brooks (Vlad). Kathryn Hahn is a new addition to the voice cast. She is lending her voice to the villain Captain Erika Van Helsing. Aside from Kathryn, new voice cast members were also revealed, with Joe Jonas as the Kraken, and Chrissy Teigen as the Invisible Woman.
Director Genny Tartakovsky is back once more and I had the opportunity to talk to him about the inspiration of the story, the new characters, and more. Let’s check it out excerpts of this exclusive interview:
What was the inspiration for this?
Genndy Tartakovsky – Well, I think it initially came up cause the first two [films] were very successful. Second one was even more than the first one. So the conversation is obvious. Initially, I was very opposed to it. I felt the same way. Why a third? At the time, they had some story that they were thinking about where it was some big international heist. Maybe there’s some younger versions of themselves. It felt like it’s going the wrong way quick. So it’s easy to say no. Then I went on this cruise and then I started to see it’s families. Really, it’s monster families. It’s what all about. Our characters on a cruise–that’s good. And I always wanted to do a story of Dracula falling in love. And then when I came back I talked to everybody. It’s one of those things that as soon as I said it, everybody’s like, “Yeah, right. That’s exactly what we should be doing.” The first two are very grounded. The first one was in hotel. Second one, it’s a little bit in the suburbs and in the forest, but we didn’t really go anywhere. Now we can really opening it up, see other monster locations left for me to try like Atlantis with all these things. It sounded like a bigger, a bigger world that we could discover and it made sense for a third movie.
Were any interactions between characters based on the experience of going on a cruise with your in-laws?
Tartakovsky – I did tell them, “Look, so this is the way I’m positioning the movie, you know I’m going to say, my in-laws,” and they were loving it up. I do like them, we get along. It gets too much sometimes like any in-laws, but generally, they’re nice and they did pay for the whole trip so it’s very generous, but I don’t think any specific things that they did made it in probably it was just the overall feeling. You know, because all our characters are so specific.
In your opinion, why is this franchise so successful?
Tartakovsky – It’s a couple of things. For sure, it’s the family aspect of it. It’s accessible and people understood. They see themselves in the characters. They have an aunt or their dad is like that. Our execution of it is so exaggerated and it’s like a cartoon. Our expressions are big. Our jokes or big and physical. It’s something that the other movies don’t do. It makes it a little bit more unique and it’s fun. We’re not trying to make you cry. We’re not trying to tell some big heavy story. There’s always a heart and emotion at its core. At the end of the day, it’s a beginning and an end and 150 jokes in between. Hopefully, if you could have five good laughs–it’s worth the money.
There is a new character Ericka. Can you talk about her?
Tartakovsky – Ericka is amazing. She’s larger than life. We wanted a Dracula’s love interest to not be like a quiet type of woman. We want her to be just as extreme, confident and bigger than life as Dracula. Kathryn Hahn is that. She is equal to Adam Sandler if you just compare voices. We made this bad ass villain who ends up being good of course. She’s another cartoon character. All of her expressions and her movements are just as big as Dracula’s.
Do you have a favorite monster?
Tartakovsky – Well, I love Dracula. He’s the cartoonist probably out of everybody. He’s this very extreme, extreme character if it goes through the range of emotions. At the same time, he’s cool and he has great powers. He’s becoming a cartoon character. My goal is always like if I can come up with a Bugs Bunny type of success, then that would be amazing.
How much has the technology changed over the course of these three films?
Tartakovsky – It changes every year because especially for Sony Pictures Imageworks, they have to stay on the cutting edge because they facilitate all the big, live, action movies so they’ve got to be very competitive with everything new and for us it’s basically the same. I think it’s just they figured out a way to do it easier. Like with the animation on the first one, we struggled because I wanted Dracula to have this expression and then this expression and then completely break his model, and so the animators had to literally redesign it each time. It took a lot of time. Now all their faces are so much more pliable that they can do it much quicker than actually starting from scratch. So it hasn’t changed that much.