Tucker Max loves to speak his mind. Made famous by his tell-all blog and explosive book, the man who hides nothing has generated one of the largest, and most hardcore fan bases that I have ever had the privilege of seeing. His new movie, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, hits theaters this Friday, and much like his book, it will have you laughing non-stop.
This past weekend, Tucker brought his bus of beer to Austin to screen his film for his diehard fans. After the movie, I got to take a seat on the bus and talk to him about his movie and its growing expectations. Unfortunately, the butt sex tale didn't quite make it into the film, but Tucker assures me, it is waiting patiently for the sequel!
CollegeMovieReview: Creative control was extremely important to you guys from the very beginning. WIth those restrictions in mind, what methods did you use in order to gain financing for the film?
Tucker Max: We actually kind of got lucky. [We] decided that we were going to do independent from the start, so we never specced it out to the studios...We didn't want to cast names that didn't belong in the movie. We wanted the best actors possible, but none of the excess baggage. The studios got a hold of the script and Aaron Rank got a call from Fox Searchlight, [just] out of the blue. They offered him $2 million for the script, [but we] wanted creative control, so he knew that it would just never happen. Hollywood is like high school, and Searchlight is the hot girl, so as soon as Searchlight wanted it, pretty much every independently financed studio wanted the movie, whether they had read the script or not...So we had financiers coming to us.
CMR: The film pushes the envelope in many ways. How many cuts did you have to send to the MPAA before getting the desired R-rating?
TM: First cut we got an R. The cut we turned in was a little bit raunchier than this [final] cut. We actually raunched it up expecting an NC-17 and came back with an R They said they gave it to us because it had heart.
CMR: How much does the film need to make to make it a success for you?
TM: If it hits $40 [million], then we've got sequels green lit across the board. I mean, making $40 million with a $6 million movie, we're cashing big checks. I think if it stays confined to fans, and obvious demographic groups, then $40 or $50 is probably as high as it can go; but I just don't see it staying there.
CMR: What would you consider a disappointment?
TM: For me personally, sub $100 [million] is going to be a little disappointing. Now that isn't to say that if it hits $85 I am going to cry, I mean, it is a huge hit if it hits $85. I can buy a plane if it hits [that]. But I have believed since day one, hour one, since the minute we finished this script, with every bone and every molecule of my being, that we had a movie that was better than almost any comedy of the last ten years. And we have seen [our share] of shit-ball comedies. I mean Paul Blart did $125 million, whatever. But I have always believed, and my personal goal is to beat Wedding Crashers - if shit goes right. I don't think we can beat Hangover, just because they did so well. But I think we can beat Wedding Crashers.
CMR: You have a built in fan base that will stop at nothing to see this movie, but how do you plan on reaching your non-die hard fans?
TM: Most of our marketing is based on the fact that we have a great movie. Whether we are right or wrong, that is our belief. I also believe that the best marketing that you can have is word of mouth. So if you have a great product, take it out and put it in front of your fans, show it to them and let them talk about it. That is why we did the tour. Let the first 15,000 people that see this movie be my fans. Let us break balls with them, sign their shit and get pictures with them, and they will tell their friends. So far it has worked great! We are leveraging the things that we have to our advantage, which are a highly collective fan base that utilizes digital media and a great product. And that is why I say that if you guys like it, and you want to see more, tell your friends.
And the people who have been the most geeked out at these screenings are not the hardcore fans, they have actually been those that don't even know who I am. If you read my book, you have those expectations. The movie, it may or may not fit your expectations...but if you come in fresh and have no idea who I am, and there is no burden to fulfill, all the sudden you are watching a movie that is really funny, really well written and doesn't insult your intelligence. It makes you feel part of the group. That is very unique and original, at least coming out in Hollywood.