Hotel Transylvania director Genndy Tartakovsky: Critics miss the point of the Transylvania films
Director Genndy Tartakovsky, in this exclusive interview, spills the beans on the upcoming 'accidental' third sequel in the Hotel Transylvania franchise
Animator-director Genndy Tartakovsky returns three years after his last film with the third film in the Transylvania franchise, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. Count Dracula and family step out of the hotel for the first time, and unbeknownst to them, there's an ancient enemy out there plotting Dracula's death. Will it all end happily for the much-loved vampires? Excerpts from a conversation with the director follow:
I read in an interview that you hadn't really planned on making a third Transylvania film.
Yes, it wasn't on the cards. I embarked on a vacation with my family, and we were on a cruise. At some point, I asked myself what it would be like to set the next Transylvania story on a cruise. That's how the idea for this sequel was born.
Was it a hard decision to step out of the hotel for the first time in this franchise?
Not really. It felt right, you know? It seemed like for this sequel, setting the story out of the hotel was the right way to go.
Typically, sequels get mounted on the strength of a new antagonist -- from The Agent in The Matrix sequels to Thanos in the latest Avengers film. Your sequel too has a new villain: Ericka Van Helsing.
But, that wasn't the first or the most important step in conceiving this story. The change in setting -- from a hotel to a cruise -- was the foundation. And then, of course, came Ericka.
In the otherwise chirpy stories in this franchise, there are some sad threads too. Like the Johnny-Mavis man-vampire relationship. Do you dwell on how Johnny is destined to die early?
(Laughs) In comedies like this, we don't typically take on such gloomy ideas, or focus on them. But yes, it's an interesting idea. Who knows, perhaps we may expand upon it in another sequel.
Count Dracula is shown in the trailer to fall for Ericka at first sight. What were you going for in designing her appearance? Her protruding chin doesn't exactly make her pleasant to behold.
(Laughs) Is that so? You know, one of my favourite female leads is Olive Oyl from Popeye. She isn't exactly conventionally pretty though, is she? Likewise, the idea here is to make Ericka endearing through her actions, not just by how she looks.
The 'zing' is said to occur only once in a vampire's life, according to the previous Transylvania films. But in this film, it's happening for the second time in Dracula's life.
It is, isn't it? I think even he's surprised by it all. Something like this has never happened before in this world, and it's new for everyone.
The Transylvania films are rather curious in how they've won audience adulation despite not really winning the critics over.
I think it's because the audience consumes the films as they are meant to be. Critics are often looking to draw parallels between animation films, and viewing, say, the Transylvania films through the prism of other great work. These films must be enjoyed for what they are, not criticised for what they are not. I think this explains the discord between the critics and the audience.