Jon Favreau is riding high these days, with “The Jungle Book” racking up huge sales numbers in the home entertainment market after scoring at the box office and with critics. He’s already plotting his next big venture, a live-action remake of another Disney film, “The Lion King” — and, as always, the film’s eventual release to the home market is constantly on his mind.
“I learned early on, really from back in the ‘Swingers’ and ‘Rudy’ days, that how a film does in theaters is just one smart part of the equation,” explains the actor and filmmaker, whose directorial credits include “Elf,” “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Cowboys & Aliens.” He is being inducted into the Variety Home Entertainment & Digital Hall of Fame on Dec. 6.
Regardless of how well a film performs at the box office, he says, “people see it multiple times at home, so the line has really blurred” between making a film for the big screen and the home screen.
As a result, he says, “I tend to put a lot of effort into what that experience on video will be for people.” With “The Jungle Book,” for example, Favreau picked an aspect ratio “that would fill up the whole screen on a TV — 16×9.”
He’s particularly keen on the Blu-ray disc editions of his films. “Formats change, and it’s always impressive, what each wave of technology has to offer,” he says. “You have high dynamic range, 3D, higher resolution, but to me, right now, if you want to see a copy of a film and ensure it is of the highest quality, having a Blu-ray disc copy” is the best way to go. “You know what the experience will be, whereas certain streaming services will compress data, which often has more to do with the user’s Internet connection than anything else.”
Favreau’s respect for the format only grew after mixing several of his films at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in Northern California.
“They have a beautiful state-of-the-art digital theater there called The Stag, and occasionally they do screenings of what I thought were DCPs — digital cinema packages — and I would watch them on the big screen and be really impressed,” he says. “Well, I found out they were actually just putting in Blu-ray discs — they hold up to that level of projection, so the image quality is quite impressive.”
Favreau also is a fan of the bonus content that often accompanies a film’s release to the home market, particularly on DVD or Blu-ray disc.
“I love to do commentaries. People are learning a lot at home, whether it’s from YouTube videos or downloadable content.”
He continues: “I never went to film school, and I learned a lot by watching extras — commentaries and interviews — on disc from filmmakers I respect. So I always go out of my way to put as much content on there as I can.”