Buzzfeed has a great profile of Max with a lot of brand new information!
First and probably most importantly, now that he’s no longer on Chronicle 2, Max has revealed the origin of the boys powers:
One minor disappointment was his removal from the Chronicle sequel, a result of Fox balking at a very dark script that presented two embittered souls as antiheroes trying to catch the survivor of the first film. Landis had a whole trilogy mapped out in his mind, including the revelation of the mysterious source of the heroes’ powers, Massive Organic Geoelectric Objects, which he says are “a race of crystalline organisms that communicate and propel themselves through radio waves, and turn higher life forms into telekinetic drones.”
He also mentions some of the stories he wrote as a child:
He still has the artwork for stories like The Three Troll Brothers, a tale of rival siblings that had to put aside their differences to carry their dead fourth brother up a mountain to heaven, and Starships: The Adventure of Boochie, a tale he started weaving when he was 8 years old, about “a whimsical solar system where God, Heaven, and Religion are a bureaucracy, led by a single guy who decides he wants to go on a vacation.”
He elaborates on his Villains movie at Universal – I’m guessing this is the one he mentioned on his Reddit AMA as the superhero film he’d like to direct:
“[Villains] takes place in a world where high science criminals are essentially supervillains, but the criminal celebrity culture still exists, so Perez Hilton interviews them, and they get jumped to the front of nightclubs,” Landis explains, rattling off details in the back corner of a diner in a way that makes obvious how easy it must be for him to entrance executives in boardroom pitch meetings. “They’re all dorks who were like, Why should I win a Nobel Prize when I can be famous for being a fucking supervillain? Guys in Armani suits with laser guns and jet packs, and it’s about a very brilliant girl who becomes a mole in this society.”
Here’s the details on American Ultra:
At the moment, at least, Landis is riding high, buzzing about the Stewart-Eisenberg project, the idea for which he first had at a house party; he wrote “American Ultra” on his hand, and after about a month and a half’s worth of work in between studio projects, the script — about a sad stoner couple in their twenties — was completed.
“I was imagining one of those intense, action movie phone calls, you know the ones,” he explains, “where the villain and the hero trade one-liners and the audience knows badass shit is going down and everyone is all dialogue-y and smirking or stone-faced and grim. And I thought, wouldn’t it be funny to do a twist on that side where one of the people just has absolutely no idea what the stakes of the situation are, and the villain, also a bit of an idiot themselves, gradually becomes too frustrated to explain it to them and things just get really awkward?”
My favorite bit is at the end:
As we leave Comic-Con, a fan from Europe stops Landis to tell him how much he admired his work, and the conversation soon turns to the guy’s own screenplay. After a few minutes, the twentysomething continental fanboy works up the courage to say that he himself had been diagnosed with a behavioral disorder, and that Max’s story inspired him to pursue his dreams in filmmaking.
This is the only moment over the course of several weeks that I see Landis at a loss for words; after the two hug and part ways, he walks quietly up 34th street, his eyes welling with tears.