Tom Kuntz on Remaking a Masterpiece

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The MJZ director tells LBB’s Addison Capper about reenacting The Shining for the Super Bowl with Bryan Cranston and a big bottle of MTN DEW
Tom Kuntz on Remaking a Masterpiece

Hi, my name is Addison Capper and I have never seen The Shining. The reason I’m shaming myself in public like that is truly to highlight just how iconic *that* scene from the Stanley Kubrick classic is. I’ve seen it, I’m aware of it, and so are you.

When the opportunity to remake it with a comedic twist for a brand dropped into the inbox of Tom Kuntz, it was too good an opportunity for the MJZ director to pass up. “I was interested because I saw that it was THE SHINING,” he told me. “I couldn’t believe they really got the rights to recreate it.”

The movie’s cult status doesn’t translate to unconditional love for Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. King referred to it as “like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it” while love for it from some modern day critics has worn thin. Tom makes no qualms about the fact that he thinks “it’s a masterpiece, even though a lot of Kubrick enthusiasts and film critics think it’s a mess”.

Tom’s remake took the form of a MTN DEW commercial that aired during the Super Bowl this past Sunday. Created by TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, Bryan Cranston plays Jack Nicholson’s character Jack, who’s hell bent on getting the thirst-quenching abilities of MTN DEW’s new sugar-free product to his wife (played by Girlfriends star Tracee Ellis Ross). It’s both very funny and possibly creepier than the original (trust me, check the extended version for a glimpse of Cranston as the twins).


One thing that’s notable is the piece of film’s likeness to the original scene, apart from the fact that it features Bryan Cranston holding a luminous green bottle of MTN DEW. “We got plans from the original film and we were as meticulous as we could be about getting it all right,” Tom says. “I dabbled with the idea of production design jokes at the very start but my instincts told me to leave it and get it all perfect and let the casting / performances be the only joke.”

Given the proposed simplicity of the concept and design, the performance of Cranston was made even more important to the final production. Tom tells me that he and Cranston spoke multiple times during the early stages of the process, explaining that he didn’t want him to go over the top and that they “just needed to ‘do it’”. It was more about finding the right balance once they started rehearsing on set.

Tracy came into the process later on, Tom explains. “I was excited about her because I knew that simply the reveal of her behind the door would be funny. On set, we played a lot with her performance. We tried all sorts of things... even had different props... there is a lot of footage of her holding a huge baguette…”


Tom says that the trickiest thing of the entire campaign was the amount of performance exploration that was required during the shoot. “It basically relies on the agency and client making great choices throughout the editing process. There were a lot of ways this spot could have gotten really bad in the edit if everyone didn’t stay strong about it and keep the vision singular.

“I’ve been watching it happen a lot lately,” he adds. “But for this one I was very happy that the edit stayed strong.”

When flippantly asked of any other horror classics that he’d like to lend his hand to for branded purposes, we are left with hope that an agency brave enough to embrace his wishes reads this piece.

“Rosemary’s Baby for Dr Pepper?”

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Genres: Comedy, People, Dialogue

Categories: Energy Drinks, Soft Drinks

LBB Editorial, 5 months ago