John JashniJon Jashni is head of Production at Legendary Pictures. We recently spoke to him about the company’s new movie, Pacific Rim, which hits cinemas last week.

While our conversation focused on the film, particularly the global appeal of the movie, we also found the time to discuss what legendary look for in a project, and a little bit about Godzilla.

On the appeal of Pacific Rim’s subject matter

It’s not the only movie we’re making, but that isn’t to say that it isn’t incredibly important to us. It’s obviously a bold undertaking, but where we’ve succeeded in the past, we’ve succeeded betting on distinctive talent, and Guillermo is one of a handful of filmmakers who justifies a bit of a leap of faith. And we’re trying to take something that may not be as widely known in terms of subject matter, and make it more widely accepted in pop culture. It isn’t that it hasn’t been a part of the pop culture because it’s incapable of being so, it just hasn’t had the right light shone on it, and there’s no person better than Guillermo to shine that light on it. And if you’re going to do that, you can’t do that half-assed.

It’s obviously a worldwide market these days, and in order to have the stakes seem as high as they need to be in order to warrant the kind of titanic action that’s taking place on screen, you really need to have it feel like a global conflict, even if the story is somewhat localised around the Pacific Rim.

On Del Toro and the Asian audience

We designed it from the story out, so obviously it has its DNA in mecha and gundam and kaiju pop culture, and it’s trying to broaden the appeal and make acceptable all that that is. Given that audiences want fresh, bold arresting entertainment, it obviously was going to have a slight Eastern flare, given where the roots are of all of that pop culture. It has an eastern flare because it has its roots in Japan.

The Chinese aspect, obviously the company has dealings there. If there were conflict in the region,  they would obviously be key participants in helping to thwart the threat in concert with their neighbours. It just went from there.

What Legendary look for in a project

We are obviously evolving and growing, and wanting to be able to avail ourselves of all opportunities. We are source agnostic with regard to IP. As long as there’s a mythology there, as long as there’s a strong story there, as long as those mythologies and stories attract distinctive filmmakers, we aren’t high-bound to a certain source. However the ideas emanate, whether they be original ideas, as in the case of Pacific Rim, whether they emanate from comic books, or video games, or newspaper articles, or just topics in the ether, as is the case with the Michael Mann tech leak movie. We are evolving. We want to continue to do more of what we’ve been doing, but we do want our consumers to be able to be able to access it in different ways than perhaps the traditional film experience only.

On the company’s other kaiju franchise, Godzilla

They are entirely different movies in terms of their palette, their sensibility and their filmmaker. We obviously wouldn’t be making both if we felt one would duplicate the other.

Godzilla is as much of an event as Pacific Rim is, but obviously Gareth’s sensibilities for character and performance and theme and nuance he exhibited in Monsters, he is bringing to Godzilla. Which I think is obvious in terms of the actors he has been able to attract. When you have Aaron Johston, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen, these are obviously all actors who need something to chew on, and want to bring their craft to something. If they can do that with something that’s going to resonate so broadly in the pop culture, and is a bit of an event, it’s the best of both worlds.

You can read our review of Pacific Rim here, and all our other coverage, including interviews with the Director and cast, can be found here.