Joe Dante recalls studio fretted about Gremlin creepiness factor [video]

June 13, 2014 | 3:50 p.m.
Joe Dante reflects on the process of making "Gremlins" at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival (Anne Cusack/LA Times)

Joe Dante reflects on the process of making “Gremlins” at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival (Anne Cusack/LA Times)

Before “Gremlins” hit theaters in 1984, studio executives fretted that the creepy critters might be too frightening for moviegoers.

“They thought the Gremlins were very unpleasant,” director Joe Dante recalled during a recent appearance at the Hero Complex Film Festival.

“So, they sent some notes, one of which was: ‘Too many gremlins.’ “

Luckily Steven Spielberg, the executive producer, had the perfect rejoinder.

“Well, we could cut all the Gremlins out and call it ‘People.’ How would you like that?”

It was the type of sardonic comeback that perhaps only Spielberg could have gotten away with at the time. After all, as Dante pointed out, he was essentially the reason the film was made. Dante said that Warner Bros., “basically backed it because Steven Spielberg wanted to make it, and they wanted to make him happy.”

Dante spoke with Hero Complex’s Gina McIntyre after a screening of the film, during the fifth annual festival, which took place May 30-June 1 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood.

He said that after audiences “went crazy” at a test screening in San Diego, the studio began to relent, realizing it may have had a hit on its hands. Still, Dante couldn’t resist adding,

“They still didn’t quite get it.”

Watch the clip above to hear what else Dante had to say about the film and its sequel, “Gremlins 2: The New Batch,” and be sure to check out all the other videos from the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival.

– Justin Sullivan | @LATHeroComplex

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