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ScoreKeeper Conversates With SUPERMAN RETURNS Composer & Editor John Ottman!!


ScoreKeeper here fresh off my conversation with SUPERMAN RETURNS composer and editor, John Ottman.

I say conversation because after only a few minutes I became aware that it was less like an interview and more like two die-hard film music fans geeking-out over all things Superman.

John tackled the improbable and managed to successfully craft a score all his own while also incorporating music from the other, more famous, film composer named John. I had a lot of fun talking with this very talented composer who also happens to love film music.


BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!


Up...

Up...

...and Away!

ScoreKeeper: When Bryan (Singer) called you to score SUPERMAN RETURNS did he just come right out and say you are using John Williams’ themes or was there a discussion between you two which resulted in taking that particular approach?

John Ottman: First he said I’m doing SUPERMAN RETURNS and I said ‘Huh?’ and then I said ‘Why?’ (laughs) Then I immediately, without even saying anything, felt this pressure on my shoulders looming because I knew what that meant. I was going to be fed to the lions no matter what I did because I would have to use John Williams’ theme. (Bryan) said in that phone call that he wouldn’t have even gone forward with this film if he wasn’t sure he could use the Williams theme. I was in agreement as a fan. I would be right along side the other fans rioting in the streets if they didn’t use the theme to SUPERMAN (1978). The intent from the very beginning was to preserve a beloved world that we already embraced set up by Richard Donner in 1978. Abandoning that theme would certainly not keep that world preserved.


SK: I think you summed it up best when you said ‘fed to the lions’. When I first heard that you were going to be using these themes that was the first thing that came to my mind. Regardless whether it’s good or bad, success or failure, there are going to be people that will criticize you for even attempting this.

JO: Let me tell you, the night (Bryan) called and for the next few months, I tossed and turned in bed every night and had every conceivable Superman nightmare involving John Williams and people being upset with me no matter what I did. I really felt it was a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation. I’m going to piss someone off no matter what I do. It was starting to cripple me so after awhile I finally said ‘Fuck that!’ I’m not going to be able to be creative if I keep thinking about all that. So I’m just going to walk into this movie like I have any other and with my own sensibilities, my own style and take on things, just integrate John Williams’ themes as I would had I written it. That’s what I did. Otherwise it would be an awful situation for me to try to do a sound-alike. That would really cheapen the movie.


SK: One of the fringe benefits to taking this particular approach is getting to study the actual John Williams’ score for SUPERMAN. How long did you spend immersed with the score and how did you actually go about studying it?

JO: Well, I can say in all honestly that I didn’t study it that much because I know every bar of that score by heart just from playing it seventeen million times as a kid. I did go to the score as reference sometimes to make sure what I was doing wasn’t wrong. As I was composing, I would basically just integrate the themes by ear and how I would arrange it. Then I would reference what he did and it was often very much the same because it’s a very simple theme. I was just making sure that I had covered all my bases for the march, the ‘bum-ba-da bum-ba-da.’ I basically orchestrated it and then I thought to myself ‘there can’t be anything more going on there.’ I would then of course refer back and sure enough it was pretty much similarly orchestrated.

The Superman theme and even the Lois Lane theme are extremely simple. You can play the Superman theme over anything. That’s what made it so fun. It’s very malleable. As I evolved through writing the score I could try new orchestrational ideas with the material and that was a lot of fun.


SK: I hear the score as a big “catch-22”. On one hand it doesn’t sound like John Williams at all which is good because I think it would be somewhat fool-hearty to try to imitate him. But on the other hand the score seems a little strange because it’s a Superman score which doesn’t sound really like John Williams. Did this thinking ever creep into your mind and if so, did it drive you nuts throughout the compositional process? How hard was it to not sound like Williams even though you were using his themes?

JO: In retrospect I look back and listen to what I wrote and inevitably there had to be some subliminal influence of John Williams on me while I was writing. Even though I would approach it as I would any other film, I just wrote a John Ottman score. Inevitably his stylistic influence rubbed off on the score more than any other and I think subconsciously I let myself channel those influences through my score. It’s really hard to explain but it is just a mindset that you put yourself in. I really didn’t want to just keep referring to the music because that would inhibit the creative process.

However, I was happy when I didn’t refer to the score and I was doing my own ‘bum-ba-da bum-ba-da’ in the actual meat of the movie. It actually sounded much bigger than the original orchestrations because back in the day they didn’t really have a very wide frequency range so I think he purposely orchestrated it with that in mind. There’s not a lot of richness in the bottom-end to that ‘bum-ba-da bum-ba-da’. It’s kind of thin and tinny. When I was able to play with it myself and add some bass drum here and there and add some other orchestrational support it actually sounded massive the way it was in my mind’s eye. Now we have a wider frequency range with digital sound so we can orchestrate that way.


SK: Because of all the pressure looming over you regarding the integration of these beloved themes, did you ever once consider turning the project down?

JO: No. I don't think that crossed my mind. I’m along for the ride when Bryan does a film and I go off to editing jail for a year. If there is anything that has crossed my mind not to do, it’s the editing. But I keep saying ‘yes.’ (laughs) I don’t think anyone would pass up the chance to score Superman. As with Bryan we’re very similar in what turned us on earlier in our lives and to me SUPERMAN is one of the all time, not only greatest comic book films, but great cinematic accomplishments period. It was intimidating I think on everyone’s behalf, from the writers, to Bryan, to the actors, to everyone, to fill shoes that had really established a world that we’ve idolized so much.


SK: Did you find that using John Williams’ themes injected a creative boost to your own writing or were they restrictive and limiting?

JO: I would say both. In one way it was inspiring to actually take those themes and play them on my keyboard and then find new ways to use them. That jazzed me. But at the same time, like when I was grappling with Lois Lane, using that theme in a modern context was not working. I wanted to weave that in somehow but when I did that literally it often felt silly. So I had to find a way to compose new material for her and that was confusing to me at first because I thought ‘Well, she already has a theme so why would she have two themes?

Yet, I don't want to abandon the theme that was already established.’ So it was really sort of a conundrum for me. Then I have to justify this other theme for her musically and so I thought ‘Well, her life as changed…She has a whole new family life…and situation…and this love triangle is a torment for her as well’ That gave me license to create some new music for her which reflected that and then somehow tack that on to the other Lois Lane theme. So she does in essence have two themes now.


SK: The usage of John Williams’ themes seem to be more prevalent earlier in the film and then tend to taper off as the story progresses. Were you trying to use them more as introductory pieces to reconnect with the character of Superman and then transition more towards your own material through the course of the movie?

JO: No, I think the film just naturally arcs that way. This is obviously a much more personal movie and so I had to create a new theme for Superman which I had no other title for except it’s his personal music. Pretty much after the jet disaster sequence we start focusing in on Superman as he goes and sees Lois’ life and so forth, and we spend time alone with him. That meant I had to introduce that new theme for him then. So just by the way the film is designed it just necessitated lapsing into a different musical journey.


SK: Let me talk a little about that personal theme you mentioned. I really liked it quite a bit and in fact I think overall it made a lasting impression on me more than even Williams’ themes did. It made it SUPERMAN RETURNS for me instead of just another addition to the pile of Superman sequels.

Although SUPERMAN RETURNS is chock full of great action sequences, it’s ambition lies in creating intimacy and depth to the characters on an emotional level. I felt that the true heart of this score, and ultimately the film, lies in these more tranquil moments. You composed this theme which by the end of the film seems to become the “new” Superman theme. There is a triumphant sadness expressed…


JO: (interrupting) Wow, I couldn’t have written that quote better myself! (laughs) That was the intent and I’m so thrilled you noticed that and some people have picked up on it. It’s so easy to get distracted by the familiar John Williams theme not realizing there’s a whole other score going on. (laughs)


SK: Well I think this new theme parallels the film fantastically. Can you just talk in general about this new theme in general? Maybe what was going through your mind when you composed it?

JO: It’s hard to describe the process but as I sat there looking at the visuals – the theme comes in for the first time when he hears the words of his father after he leaves Lois’ house – I just looked at it and I’m thinking ‘Well, this guy is a really lonely person. He’s feeling a lot of pain because the love of his life he’s potentially lost. He just doesn’t fit in.’ We all can relate to being an outsider in some way. I don't know how that translated musically for me. I just started playing on the keyboard some sad chords and it went through many iterations until I could actually come up with a melody line that was memorable and something that I new I could develop as the film went on. It has its final orgasm when he goes and regenerates himself in the sun. That’s where I laid it out where this theme would be going.


SK: Would you then consider yourself an instinctual composer? Do you operate completely off instinct even though you may not be able to explain the music all the time or do you find yourself wanting to be able to explain what you are doing?

JO: No, it’s instinct. People ask me all the time ‘What’s your process?’ and I go ‘I don’t know. I just sit there and fiddle my fingers on the keyboard and panic and hope to God that something comes.’ When I see a scene I respond to it emotionally or respond to its needs in a pragmatic way of course. I don’t know how it happens. You sit there and you just doodle until something works. As I do more and more movies I gain more confidence because in the beginning I would sit there and go ‘God, this seems to work but maybe it’s crap!’ (laughs) As you do more and more films you gain the confidence in knowing that what you’re doing is right.


SK: Would you do a Superman sequel?

JO: Oh sure, of course. The whole fantasy of mine has always been to do a sequel to my own score. That was my whole excitement about potentially – you know, the whole plan was to do X-MEN 3 – and so when Bryan called I was kind of crushed because I had laid out all these seedlings in the score for X-MEN 2 to be expanded upon later. To just abandon that was really depressing for me and really added to the anxiety when I was entering SUPERMAN RETURNS. Not only was I deep-sixing a musical world I had laid out and intended to expand upon, but I was also entering this no-win situation. It was emotionally a screwy few months for me to adjust into Superman.


SK: Hypothetically speaking, how would you approach a sequel for SUPERMAN RETURNS? Would you take your new theme and run with it or would you approach it differently?

JO: Mr. Williams will always be along for the ride with a Superman film. For every sequel I would use the “Main Theme”. The theme of a franchise should remain the same. But it's the character themes and the incidental themes throughout the score which are the things that you really relish expanding upon and want to evolve to other things later. This is similar to when John Williams went backwards with Darth Vader’s theme in the earlier movies and made it more of a fragmented piece that he tried to imply would grow up into THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. It’s the same thing. These themes will always be, I hope, a part of Superman now.


SK: I’ve got a couple more questions about John Williams and then I’ll get off his bandwagon and we can focus a little more on you. Did you or Bryan ever place any calls or talk to Williams about the score at all? Was he ever there at any of the recording sessions?

JO: When we were recording we did invite him to come to the scoring session. Thank God he couldn’t make it. (laughs) He was in Europe at the time. I wanted to invite him – it would have been a great thing but I have to admit I was extremely relieved as was my conductor (Damon Intrabartolo) that he wasn’t able to make it. It’s already so tense with recording sessions and having him there would have put it over the top. That would have been extremely nerve-wracking. It’s like the composing God descending upon my session. That would have been really freaky for me. But we did extend (an invitation) and he was very kind to also call Warner Brothers while I was scoring the movie and offer any parts that we might need or any conductor scores if we couldn’t find them.


SK: Have you heard from John Williams since the score has been finished?

JO: No, I haven’t.


SK: Would you like to?

JO: Oh sure! It’s surrealistic for me, a guy who was just a fan playing his records growing up to even be doing this. I had to constantly think about that when I got really down doing this movie. I’m really a ‘glass-half-empty’ kind of person. Then I just thought ‘What a minute…OK, I’m adapting one of my idols all-time iconic themes into a movie.’ I would have never even dreamed of doing this a few years ago. It’s insane. I really had to keep things in perspective.

I would love to actually meet him and talk to him post-Superman. I met him briefly at a cocktail party about six months before we started the movie and I grabbed him and I just said ‘Mr. Williams, I’m a big fan and I happen to be scoring (the next Superman) movie.’ He looked at me and said ‘Well good luck!’ and patted me on the shoulder and left. (laughs) But! The funny thing is at that one moment, someone clicked a picture. I have it and it looks like we’re good old buddies that had been standing there for an hour talking. (laughs)


SK: Although not foreign to modern day superhero scores, the usage of the choir is especially unique to that of Superman. Tell me a little bit about your decision to use a choir in the score and what you think it does to affect the aural impact of the Superman legacy?

JO: I think a choir just helps to personalize the music, if it’s done in just the right way. It could also be laughable. It’s a very tricky thing to do. It really helps to add a humanity to the music. When you use a choir in a score it also expands the breadth of the score. It makes a much larger canvas and helps the film realize the epic proportions that you’re trying to portray. That can be tricky as well because if it’s not warranted in the themes that you are composing to, it could feel too forced and silly. Since this film is so big and Superman is such an iconic character, because there are symbolic and religious overtones to the film, it felt like the right thing to do.


SK: When you work with Bryan (Singer), how much creative control does he give you? Once you come to the scoring stage, how much does he control the fine-tuning of the score?

JO: Bryan knows how the creative mind works and he’s very respectful of that. He gives you just enough space to not get interfered or stepped on too much. Then when he feels he’s ready he comes in and he’ll do just that. (laughs) He’ll step on you because he has to, he’s the director.

When he’s developing a film he puts a tremendous amount of focus and energy into the script stage. So that when the film is shot, there’s less of that anxiety to think about. It’s the same when he’s approving music cues for me. Once he’s basically given the green light and approved the cue, he trusts it and rarely makes a change on the scoring stage.

We will often though, when we have a new perspective on the film while we’re doing the final dub, both sit back and see the film in a new way. Because we’re finally getting that objectivity that we really need as if we weren’t involved in the movie. There’s something weird about when you put the film up for the first time on the dub stage with the giant screen and you start working with the real sound in it and the music and so forth. We sit there and look at each other and we make editorial changes when something doesn’t feel quite right. We’ll also make some music editorial changes. He’s very pragmatic and knows that we can’t go back and rescore. So we’ll figure out ways of reediting the music or pulling some music from another cue and mixing things together if there is a moment he doesn’t quite feel comfortable with.


SK: Normally composers aren’t there for the final dub. Are you there because of your editorial duties or because you're the composer?

JO: I’m there as the editor because the editor has to basically direct the dub. Directors will usually stop in and give their notes after the editors worked for a couple of days on a reel. So I really have to go in there with no musical agenda whatsoever. In fact more times than not, I’m lowering music rather than raising it.

I’ve sort of trained myself to have this perspective where when I walk on the dub stage it’s like some one else wrote the score and now it’s just one of many elements that I’m using to try to make the film as good as I can. I think I sort of surprised a lot of people, including the mixers. When the composer walks in you just assume this guy has got one agenda and one agenda only – to preserve his music and play it loud. I think they were very surprised that when I sit there and massage the sound effects, the dialogue, and the music, that I really embed it quite a bit.


SK: There are moments in the film where the music is drowned out by sound effects, for example in the jet disaster sequence. As the composer at the dubbing stage who is also the editor, how do you prioritize all the sonic elements in the film?

JO: Well, I’m sitting there on the dub stage and I keep having to tell myself ‘Ok, the music is here as an element.’ Then when the sound effects people bring in their stuff I have to sit back, see the movie, close my eyes as an audience member would who’s not a film score geek like I am, who’s really there for an experience in a jet plane.

It’s true though, I went to the premiere and it was just killing me because you could barely hear the music in the jet sequence half the time. I was really getting upset. When we dub the movie we dub it at a certain volume level. At that level you can actually hear everything, including the music. Even if it’s buried you can hear the nuances. But when it goes to a theater where they don’t play the sound loud enough, or it’s full of people which deadens the sound, the first thing to get lost is the music. So I’m sitting there at the premiere thinking to myself ‘Goddamn it! Maybe I should’ve mixed the music abnormally loud so when it went to this stupid, lousy theater, you would actually hear more.’

Anyway, I have to make those judgment calls. It’s not a music video, it’s a movie.


SK: But wouldn’t you agree the music has to have a chance to affect the audience? If it’s too low in the mix it doesn’t get that chance.

JO: Right. The jet sequence does build to one big tragic emotional moment where they’re definitely going down. The music takes the shift. It’s not suspense music anymore, it’s more tragic. So that’s where we played the music up. By enabling the music to come up and be heard, it suddenly makes a moment happen that normally maybe not have happened if it were just music all the way through at the same level.


SK: Compare your score for SUPERMAN RETURNS with your prior two comic book scores, X2 and FANTASTIC FOUR. Were there any considerations on SUPERMAN RETURNS that didn’t exist on the prior two superhero films you scored? Because it was SUPERMAN did that automatically say ‘do better’, ‘it’s more important’, etc?

JO: I would say on every movie I always try my best and really try to make every film better than the last. But let’s face it, there was a moment where I was sitting in my studio one night and there was a freeze frame of Superman in his uniform on the screen. I just looked at it and suddenly I was like ‘Oh my God! What am I doing?’ (laughs) ‘I’m scoring Superman!’ So I think there was that extra effort to sort of rise to the occasion of this movie. I really felt the world on my shoulders with this thing.

X-MEN 2 is an ensemble piece and so is FANTASTIC FOUR. So the difference in this one is that this is really a personal story. That’s the biggest difference and the biggest payoff for me musically. Every composer wants to delve into the emotional realm more than just the bells and whistles. We all want to explore emotions. So that was the biggest payoff for me. I tried to do that in X-MEN 2 as well but again, it’s a collective in the form of darkness through the whole film. With FANTASTIC FOUR it was more light, comic-booky, and it’s fun. Every movie has something that inspires me. The reason I enjoyed scoring FANTASTIC FOUR so much is that I could just let my hair down and have a good time and do stuff I normally would never get to do on any other film.


SK: In an age where typecasting composers is so prevalent are you at all concerned about being typecast as a superhero or comic book score composer or are you still a few superhero films away from worrying about that?

JO: I get that question a lot and I hadn’t really thought about it. I tell people ‘If there’s one genre to get typecast in, this would be a good one.’ For years I was typecast as the dark and sinister guy after THE USUAL SUSPECTS, even though I don’t really consider that just a straight dark and sinister score. I think it’s rather romantic myself but nevertheless, I was ‘dark-guy.’ So to be able to branch out and do some bizarre movies here and there like KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005), even little stuff that no one has seen like PUMPKIN (2002), it gave me an opportunity to break that mold. With these superhero films I think it’s completely removed me now from that pigeon-hole and placed me into a new one, which is great. (laughs)


SK: When you edit a film that you will later score, are you already thinking like a composer in the back of your mind? Or do you operate solely in editor mode when editing and then switch to composer mode when it’s time to compose?

JO: There may be something subconscious going on – which I think there is with every good editor – but really I just have the editor’s cap on. It’s such an overwhelming process to keep up with the shooting of the film and get a cut together. That is really all I’m thinking about. I will intentionally create pregnant areas where I know will be score driven moments or a feature moment for the score but what that score is going to be I don’t have any idea.


SK: That must be one of the conveniences being the editor and the composer, those moments where you know you can carry a certain scene a little longer knowing that the score will carry it through?

JO: Right. And it’s just one more moment for me to worry about later. The one thing when I’m doing a Bryan (Singer) movie there’s this task always looming. When most editors look forward to getting the cut together there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. That’s the one difference with me. There’s always this monumental thing I have to look forward to and yet it’s the whole reason I want to do the film is scoring the movie. It’s kind of funny how the thing I’m supposed to be enjoying the most is the thing I’m often dreading because by the time I get there I’m so exhausted.


SK: Would you ever edit and score for any other directors?

JO: Hell no!


SK: If your career gets to the point where you can only either edit or compose, which direction will you go?

JO: Bryan and I have talked about that a lot. I have a connection to Bryan in terms of when he makes a movie. In one way I feel ‘Goddamn it, I don't want anybody else to take over!’ At the same time I get a tremendous amount of creative fulfillment from writing film music. I would love to not have that road block every couple of years. But you know what they say, ‘Never say never.’


SK: When you look at SUPERMAN RETURNS are you more proud of your work as the editor or as the composer?

JO: It’s so funny you say that because I sit there and I’m watching the movie thinking about the dub and the music and I forget the fact that I fucking cut the thing! (laughs) I should also say I cut it with another editor on this movie as well, Elliot Graham, so we were partners on this movie. But nevertheless when I watch it I’m not even remembering the fact that I cut the scenes I’m watching.


SK: I’ve heard that the original cut first approved by Bryan (Singer) neared the three and a half hour mark and was trimmed back significantly to get it in at its current running time of two and a half hours. Can you tell us what was taken out? Have you scored these scenes already? Will they be restored in a Director’s Cut DVD?

JO: Yeah, it’s true. We did have a lengthy first cut, which is not in our tradition. Normally we really try to deliver a very lean first cut because we know I have to go off and do a lot of writing. This cut was rather ‘fat’ as you would call it. The scenes that we cut out, a lot of them will be on the DVD. The major sequence that was cut out that’s been talked about is the return to Krypton. I don’t know what its state is. At some point it’s going to be shown to people.

I had actually scored that entire sequence but we never recorded it. It was like a five and half minute journey with Superman going to discover the wreckage of Krypton. It’s a beautiful sequence but it just didn’t fit in the beginning of the film. It held the film back from moving on and actually being about Superman returning. I think they’re going to have me record that music somewhere down the line before that scene is presented.


SK: Do you actually have to do any more composing for any of these deleted scenes?

JO: It’s funny. I had written the cue and when we decided that we weren’t going to put it in the film I just no longer felt the need to show Bryan the cue anymore. Then there was talk about recording it so I showed it to him and he had notes on it and I was like ‘Oh boy.’ Here I was right in the middle of dubbing the movie and we had a lot of things going on. He could see I was pretty worn down. So he said ‘Let’s not even deal with this right now. We’ll just record it later and deal with my revisions on another date.’

So there are still some outstanding revisions that Bryan wants to make in this cue so I have to do some work on it before we record it.


SK: Any other interesting scene deletions you can share with us?

JO: We had this long opening showing footage from the 1978 movie showing Jor-El putting the child into the spacecraft and Krypton falling apart. It was an interesting sequence which included Marlon Brando’s prologue. But there was something odd about it because for us it was really cool and nostalgic to watch restored footage from 1978 but what was odd was that you were watching another movie. It wasn’t really in the same reality as this film. So we literally decided at the 11th hour that this doesn’t feel right so we got rid of that. I’m not even sure that will even exist on the DVD because it wasn’t really a finished sequence. It was more just an idea.

There were some scenes in the farm house. For example, Clark discovers the newspaper article ‘Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman’ in the barn at the farm. We decided instead not to bring him down so early as a character and have him discover that only after he goes to Lois’ desk at the Daily Planet. We shot that as a pickup because it felt better for the character story-wise.


SK: How many minutes of music did you write and how long did it take to write it?

JO: I wrote 118 minutes of music. That includes the John Williams themes. I left the editing room about two and a half months before we recorded the score. So I had about ten weeks to write. Unlike most films, I didn’t get to stay in the zone. I was often dealing with editorial issues.


SK: That’s got to be annoying as all hell?

JO: Very annoying. You get yourself in that realm and you really just want to stay there. When the phone rings you’ve got to go to ADR or deal with some editorial issues or go to an executive meeting. The worst thing is when you go to an executive screening and the temp score is in the film. It’s a total mind-fuck because I’m in the middle of writing the new score and the old music is on there. I get home and literally I’ve got a headache. I have to constantly tell myself ‘What I’m doing is better…’

Then we spent about nine days recording.


SK: As the editor, were you responsible for the temp score?

JO: Yeah, I am my own worst enemy. I create the temp score. I’m a film score geek so I have a lot of film scores at my disposal and Bryan is very particular about the temp score working emotionally. To him the temp score is the entire palette for the general emotional idea of the movie. So he really wants to get as close as he can emotionally.

It’s inevitable, as with any film, that certain parts of the temp works miraculously. So when you’re the guy who temped it and has to answer by doing something better than that I just want to kick myself.


SK: How did directing URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (2000) impact your perception of either scoring or editing? Do you have plans or hope to direct again?

JO: It gives me even more of an appreciation of what a director’s mindset is. There’s a tremendous amount of insecurity to any director especially musically. I experienced that on my own movie even though I was the composer. I myself even fell in love with my own temp score. I had to really rely on my friends around me to kick me in the ass.

I think I had a unique perspective being a composer because I really see everything through the experience of a filmmaker. I understand how their thinking. I understand their fears.

I would love to direct a film again at some point. My favorite thing about directing was dealing with actors and a crew. The one thing I don’t like about either job, composing or editing, is that it’s pretty isolated. I’m actually a people person so for me it was a joy to go and see people every day.


SK: What’s next for you?

JO: Next for me is a film called A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. It’s a Ben Stiller, JUMANJI-esque comedy coming out around Christmas time directed by Shawn Levy (THE PINK PANTHER, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, BIG FAT LIAR).


SK: That pretty much wraps up all the questions I had. I want to congratulate you again on your score for SUPERMAN RETURNS. I was one of those terrified fans that was very apprehensive about somebody other than John Williams revisiting those beloved themes. I have to say it was your original stuff that won me over.

JO: Thank you very much. That really makes me feel good.

SK: Thank you for your time and best wishes for a fantastic year.

JO: Thank you.



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Readers Talkback
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  • June 27, 2006, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Roger Ebert hated the movie...

    by JohnGalt06

    Now, I'm not saying that he's always right but it certainly is not a good sign. "Atlas Yawned". Ouch.

  • June 27, 2006, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Kudos to ScoreKeeper

    by kevinwillis.net

    One of the best interviews yet. This is actually turning into one of the things I look forward to at AICN.

  • June 27, 2006, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Roger Ebert Wrote 'Valley of the Dolls'

    by kevinwillis.net

    Why am I going to listen to him about Superman? He's been nothing to me since the death of Gene Siskel. It's like the Odd Couple without Felix. Although I'm disappointed to discover the exploration of Krypton--the whole reason Supes apparently leaves for five years--is left out of the final cut of the film. Going to have to wait until the Special Edition DVD, I guess.

  • June 27, 2006, 9:47 a.m. CST

    John Williams

    by Atticus Finch

    I wonder how much he was paid for "Superman Returns"?

  • June 27, 2006, 9:51 a.m. CST

    The word is "converse."

    by Slugworth

    I don't mean to be a douche (lie), but this one really bugs me. The word is "converse" not "conversate."

  • June 27, 2006, 9:55 a.m. CST

    He did not write "Valley of the Dolls"

    by JohnGalt06

    He wrote "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls". Big difference.

  • June 27, 2006, 10:08 a.m. CST

    nice

    by THE KNIGHT

    Seems like a really cool guy and a true nerd..... He gets my respect for composing and editing movies because that's farrrr from easy...

  • June 27, 2006, 10:13 a.m. CST

    ottman's best score

    by roc nathan

    ...is arac attack - much underrated movie, much underrated score.

  • June 27, 2006, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Excellent interview

    by Doctor_Sin

    Everyone else, take notes!

  • June 27, 2006, 10:18 a.m. CST

    "bum-ba-da bum-ba-da"

    by tripp5

    you know a score is iconic when you can read that lil bit and know exactly what piece of music he's speaking of. and his kiss kiss bang bang score was indeed mighty kick ass.

  • June 27, 2006, 10:22 a.m. CST

    Ottman

    by Seph_J

    Nice one John. I particuarly love 'Memories' - that track is actually a lovely improvement on the original Williams theme.

  • June 27, 2006, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Ebert hated Spider-Man too, but....

    by Cletus Van Damme

    ...by the time Spidey 2 came out he'd realized that he was the only lout that didn't give Spidey 1 a rave review and was the first to say how great Spidey 2 was.

  • June 27, 2006, 10:33 a.m. CST

    irregardless of the dictionary you use

    by HypeEndsHere

    conversate is not a word. say it with me.... CONVERSE.

  • June 27, 2006, 10:37 a.m. CST

    Mori's review?

    by Gordon Bombay

    Anyone else starting to think something fishy is going on with Mori's review still not up?

  • June 27, 2006, 10:42 a.m. CST

    2 stars is negative no matter how you spin it

    by Freakemovie

    Even though I haven't seen the movie yet I felt myself nodding when I read Ebert's review. The movie just doesn't sound like very much fun. I'll go see anything from the team that brought me X2, but with all the "eh" and "good not great" reviews popping up, my expectations are a bit lowered. Oh--and Ebert was spot-on about Spider-Man. The first one was lame, the second one was much better.

  • June 27, 2006, 10:49 a.m. CST

    SPIDERMAN 3 TRAILER CIRCULATING THE WEB

    by digital8

    It's hard to find, but a bunch of people have it. Look around for links. It hits Apple's site in 3 hours.

  • June 27, 2006, 10:54 a.m. CST

    Eh, I'll just wait for the Apple site...

    by JohnGalt06

    And watch it in glorious Quicktime. As far as Ebert's review, I was just pointing it out so people could check it out if they like. I constantly disagree with him but he always writes very well written reviews. That said, I cannot say anything about a movie I haven't seen because I don't trust anyone's opinion but my own. However, lowered expectations never hurt any movie...

  • June 27, 2006, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Ebert gave Anacanda 3 stars...

    by future help

    so fuck him giving Superman and Spiderman less. what an ass.

  • June 27, 2006, 11:39 a.m. CST

    "irregardless"?

    by Monkey Butler

    Please tell me you were being ironic, HypeEndsHere.

  • June 27, 2006, 11:39 a.m. CST

    The way he shoehowrns in Williams' stuff sucks ass

    by I Dunno

    It's like "stop my insipid noodling for a second and lets play some good music. Ok, back to the crap.

  • June 27, 2006, 11:43 a.m. CST

    Here's a simple question

    by JohnGalt06

    Why not just have Williams score the damned thing? Then this guy could've just cut the movie, gone home, had a beer and cheated on his wife.

  • June 27, 2006, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Ia, ia! Moriarty f'taghn! We summon thee!

    by Doctor_Sin

    Post your review, Mori - for the love of god.

  • June 27, 2006, 12:51 p.m. CST

    I am not 100% convinced that...

    by JohnGalt06

    Moriarty absoluted despised SUPERMAN RETURNS and is delaying his review until the last possible moment as some sort of favor for Warner Bros., perhaps because he is the only reviewer on AICN that anyone takes seriously.

  • June 27, 2006, 2:37 p.m. CST

    All the ebert bashing...BUT...

    by minderbinder

    How do you know he's not right in this case? The movie isn't out yet, and reviews are somewhat mixed. What's with all the people making up their minds that this sucks/rules before even seeing it?

  • June 27, 2006, 2:38 p.m. CST

    What the HELL is with CONVERSATE!??!

    by Borgnine JR

    It's bad enough young'uns today can't read and write in general, do you have to promulgate that crap here?! The word is CONVERSES. Is it too much to ask that an EDITOR be LITERATE!?

  • June 27, 2006, 3:04 p.m. CST

    If WB were really smart...

    by JohnGalt06

    they could've made this entire movie for free just by letting Jerry Seinfeld have a cameo. He would've paid $200 million for a walk-on, easy...

  • June 27, 2006, 3:11 p.m. CST

    "irregardless of the dictionary you use"...

    by TheRealRatigan

    ..."irregardless" is not a word. The word is "regardless". Say it with me: "regardless".

  • June 27, 2006, 3:43 p.m. CST

    The dictionary I use...

    by Admonisher

    ...is Merriam-Webster, which states: "Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance." It does recommend using "regardless" instead. There's no hope for "conversate", I'm afraid. :-P

  • June 27, 2006, 3:48 p.m. CST

    ratigan, irony IS a word.

    by HypeEndsHere

  • June 27, 2006, 3:52 p.m. CST

    by HypeEndsHere

    sometimes i'm too clever for your own good.

  • June 27, 2006, 4:23 p.m. CST

    Its official...Moriarty HATES Superman Returns

    by JohnGalt06

    I don't even need to read the review. He despises it with every fiber of his being. Oh well...

  • June 27, 2006, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Oh please...

    by bmsatter

    There ain't no such word as conversates. This site would be way more fantabulous if it used real words. You guys are so unresponsible. I'm really disapreciative of such misappropriateness of the English language. Hey! What a minute...."comic-booky" ain't no word either! Damn you all!...Great interview nonetheless.

  • June 27, 2006, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Can't believe you guys are conversating about diction

    by finky089

    in a Superman talkback....And Maybe Mori hasn't posted it yet b/c he's still finishing it. Not because of some 'hater" conspiracy. See, that's what some people often do before insta-publishing their stuff.

  • June 27, 2006, 5:33 p.m. CST

    BTW, thanks for the great interview, ScoreKeeper.

    by finky089

  • June 27, 2006, 5:47 p.m. CST

    Wow, the haters are sure clinging to mori.

    by minderbinder

    The guy hasn't even posted a review, and it's "official" that he hates it? Give him a fucking break, he's not your review monkey.

  • June 27, 2006, 7:05 p.m. CST

    MELTING OWL & UNSOCIABLE HAMMER

    by Shermdawg

    2hrs til DUNBAR HORTON "Returns". I hope they still have tickets.

  • June 27, 2006, 11:46 p.m. CST

    Hype, I am fully aware of the irony in your post.

    by TheRealRatigan

    Just not that it was intentional. Good for you. You're too clever, alright. Yes, indeed.

  • June 27, 2006, 11:51 p.m. CST

    Admonisher, I guess we've all learned something here.

    by TheRealRatigan

    And isn't that the best kind of TalkBack?

  • June 27, 2006, 11:52 p.m. CST

    Admonisher, I guess we've all learned something here.

    by TheRealRatigan

    And isn't that the best kind of TalkBack?

  • June 28, 2006, 2:36 a.m. CST

    Harry and Herc are MAJOR assholes...

    by Jar Jar 4 Prez

    for that animation that they're using of Superman in the wheelchair. Yeah, I can hear your responses already: "Oh, but that's Herc's little avatar! We mean no disrespect!" Yeah, right... and I'm sure that as you were creating the animation and posting it on the site nobody made the connection that Christopher Reeve was confined to a wheelchair for the last few years of his life. You're gonna have to delete this post, because I'm totally calling you assholes out bigtime. There's no excuse for this type of shit.

  • June 28, 2006, 3:45 a.m. CST

    Sorry, but Ottman's music is awful.

    by heywood jablomie

    Should've just hired John Williams to write more shit.

  • June 28, 2006, 4:45 p.m. CST

    wrong wrong wrong

    by jezza

    i fail to follow the logic that there would be rioting on the streets if the original 1978 Superman score wasn't used. Isn't it the job of filmmakers to match, and better, the work of previous generations? the idea that archetypal stories like Superman should be preserved in aspic is idiotic. Sorry, John Ottman and Bryan Singer - I'm sure you're very talented. But paying homage to past art in such a slavish manner is the work of curators and fans. At least Tarantino stitches his movie riffs together to create something new.