In 2010, while working for The Onion News Network, Jon Watts and his writing partner Christopher Ford were brainstorming fictional Hollywood movie ideas when they came up with the plot of Clown—an average husband/father transforming into a murderous clown. Watts created a fake trailer for it,which included "From the Master of Horror, Eli Roth" titled card, and uploaded it to YouTube.
Surprisingly, Roth saw it and was so impressed with the evil clown premise and the ballsy attribution to him that he came on board as a producer and made the fictional film a reality.
“I was like, ‘This is not real.’ I thought now I was being pranked,” Watts told The Daily Beast while promoting Clown. “The whole thing was completely surreal… The whole time, you’re just waiting for the camera crew to come in. ‘You didn’t really think this was happening, did you?’ Even on set, I was like ‘They’re really taking this prank far!’”
Clown was shot in 2012 and released in some international markets in 2014, but this weekend, Dimension Films is finally giving Jon Watts's directorial debut its long-awaited North American debut. After Clown, Watts moved on to Cop Car. The 2015 film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, caught the attention of Marvel executives, helping Watts to land Spider-Man: Homecoming.
“I don’t know if they’ve seen Clown,” Watts chuckled. “I’m a little nervous. They liked Cop Car, so I wasn’t going to say, ‘So, I also made a horror movie where a clown monster eats children.’ I wasn’t just going to bring that up.”
As for Spider-Man: Homecoming, filming will begin relatively soon. Casting announcements have been coming at a fast and furious pace over the past few weeks. The cast is very talented, but Watts is especially proud of diverse it is, capturing the reality of Queens.
“Peter Parker goes to high school in Queens, and Queens is one of—if not the—most diverse places in the world. So I just wanted it to reflect what that actually looks like.”
Since there's already been 5 standalone Spider-Man films in less than two decades, Watts is focused on trying to bring something new to the table.
“It’s been really fun to just look for things that none of the other Spider-Man movies have really explored before, and decide if that’s something we want to work into that,” he explained. “And really making it a high school movie, and committing to that, and not having that just be the beginning of the movie. The John Hughes sort of tone. When you’re looking at it through that prism, it really opens up the door to a lot of possibilities.”
The cast features Tom Holland (In the Heart of the Sea) as Spider-Man/Peter Parker, Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler, My Cousin Vinny) as Aunt May, and Robert Downey Jr. (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man) as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and Michael Keaton (Batman, Birdman) as The Vulture. It also includes Zendaya (Shake it Up!, K.C. Undercover), Donald Glover (Community, The Martian), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley) Laura Harrier (One Life to Live), Kenneth Choi (Captain America: The First Avenger, The People vs. O.J. Simpson), Michael Barbieri (The Dark Tower), Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) and Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel).
The film is being directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car, Clown), based on a script by Vacation and Horrible Bosses screenwriters, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released on July 7, 2017.