The hot duo behind this fall's biggest chiller are a match made in Hollywood heaven.
Scream kings: Following this month’s release of Stephen King’s It, producers/writers/ directors/bromancers David Katzenberg (right) and Seth Grahame-Smith of KatzSmith Productions are developing Beetlejuice 2 with Tim Burton and a feature-length version of Swedish cult short Kung Fury.
David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith are in love with the movies—and each other (in a bromance kind of way). Katzenberg, 34, the son of Hollywood mogul/ DreamWorks cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Grahame-Smith, 41, who grew up in the anti-Industry environs of Weston, Connecticut, met by chance at CBS in 2006. Katzenberg was right out of film school with dreams of becoming a director. Grahame-Smith was a writer with a couple of well-received books to his name but little movie moxie. Eleven years later, the dynamic duo’s shingle, KatzSmith Productions, is one of the town’s hottest commodities, with the friends developing, producing, writing, and directing a string of A-list properties, including Stephen King’s highly anticipated It, as well as the upcoming Beetlejuice sequel.
When you met, was it instant chemistry? Seth Grahame-Smith: “Yes! We had the same sense of humor. And David and I are just very easily annoyed people. You need somebody you can bitch and moan with.”
What was your first break? David Katzenberg: “Warner Bros. took a very early bet on us and gave us a two-year deal. It gave us legitimacy even though we hadn’t produced much.”
You have different backgrounds and interests. How does that play out in the office? DK: “Seth is a multi-tasker like no other. He can have four windows open on his computer—writing four movies at the same time. It’s crazy.” SGS: “David’s unflappable. You want him in your foxhole when things are going wrong—and it was a lot of ups and downs over six years to get It produced!”
You really captured the creepy factor in the book. SGS: “Creepy is a great word for it. But I think people will be surprised how substantive the coming-of-age elements are.” dk: “The kids are fantastic. They will make you laugh… and they’re going to make your heart hurt.”
There’s a picture of legendary Hollywood producer Richard Zanuck hanging in your office. What does it mean being a “producer” today? SGS: “I was lucky enough to make his last movie with him, and he took me under his wing. But the days of the Dick Zanucks and Jerry Bruckheimers and Joel Silvers are over. There’s so much competition today for so few movies, you can’t just sit on the phone and connect the dots. You have to be on the ground, doing five things at once. I fantasize about the days of first-dollar gross and producers who had two hit movies and a fleet of jets.”
Speaking of legends, any great advice from your dad, David? DK: “He once said to us, ‘I’ll never be disappointed if you’re outsmarted. I’ll only be disappointed if you’re outworked… If you don’t show up to work on Sunday, don’t bother coming in on Monday.’ It gave us a seven-day-week mentality.”
You’re both married with young children, too! Do you ever just fantasize about taking a break? SGS: “Yes, it’s for David and me to take a vacation together—riding motorcycles up the coast. No phones, no wives, no kids. Holding hands, watching the sunset. We are the most married straight couple of guys you will ever meet.”