In what could easily be deemed as the most entertaining panel of the day, Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi took the stage at Deadline’s The Contenders event during the massive $118M+ opening weekend of the Disney Marvel film. “By the way, this is whisky and coffee,” Waititi shared, seemingly to explain his eccentric behavior, which garnered big laughs from the audience. “It’s my opening weekend I can say whatever the f*ck I want.”
Waititi kept it honest throughout the panel discussion, which was moderated by Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro. When asked about why he decided to take on such a tentpole like Thor, “Money, straight up,” he zinged saying he has two children who “cost shit loads of money.” He admitted not having much experience in the arena. “Full disclose, I’ve never made a superhero movie before.” His movies were more around the budgets where he’s cutting up carrots for the crew. “So I thought Marvel didn’t care anymore,” he zinged. “My strengths were tone and that’s it,” he joked before adding more attributes like character, dialogue, and humor, which was clear. “I said ‘you guys can take care of the explosion, I’ll focus on what I’ve done before,” he continued, “and I didn’t get fired because I’m a G.”
Waititi did not hold back during his turn onstage at the DGA, where ironically, he shared his membership was recently reinstated after being suspended for four months. “I think it was something to do with money, which ain’t a problem anymore!”
Meanwhile, Pixar’s Coco director Lee Unkrich, was on deck to talk about his animated film which celebrates the Dia de los Muertos Mexican holiday. “I had always been interested in it as an outsider, mostly drawn to it through folk art,” said Unkrich. “It wasn’t until I really started learning about the traditions and heading down to Mexico and learning firsthand how central family really is to the celebration. It’s a celebration that’s not about death, it’s about life. It’s about an obligation to remember our loved ones and not let the memories die.” The pic follows Miguel, voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzales, who dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), though his family forbids his pursuit of music.
For the director, it was important to showcase the different types of music that stems from Mexico. “In my mind, the model was O, Brother Where Art Thou, where you have a movie that really embraces the music. There’s lots of performances of music. It’s not a traditional breakout into song musical but music is in its DNA.” He added, “We wanted to make a film that really embraces all the different kinds of great music that comes out of Mexico. Everybody knows Mariachi and that is only one part of Mexican music but there is but there’s so much more. Our movie is about performers. It’s about musicians so there’s a lot of performing onstage.”