In producing Earth to Echo, the kid friendly adventure movie opening July 2nd in American theaters, Andrew Panay is navigating unfamiliar territory with precision and ease. With a career producing adult themed comedies such as Wedding Crashers and a Van Wilder movie, this is a new venture. Thankfully, his new PG adventure film is safe for the entire family. I had an opportunity to speak with him about his new project, why he got into producing, and why he made a family appropriate adventure film.
Synopsis: In Relativity’s PG summer family adventure movie, Tuck, Munch and Alex are a trio of inseparable friends whose lives are about to change. Their neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project that is forcing their families to move away. But just two days before they must part ways, the boys begin receiving a strange series of signals on their phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they team up with another school friend, Emma, and set out to look for the source of their phone signals. What they discover is something beyond their wildest imaginations: a small alien who has become stranded on Earth. In need of their help, the four friends come together to protect the alien and help him find his way home. This journey, full of wonder and adventure, is their story, and their secret. (c) Relativity
Panay has a sincere love for movies and cited Goonies as a source for inspiration for Earth to Echo at the screening the night before. He was an intern at Disney when he was 19 years old. When he was even younger, he was engaged in the storytelling artistic side in movie making eager to replicate it.
“My whole life I was a musician and paint a lot,” he said. “There was a side of me that was artistic and the movies were a part of my life. As time went on I realized I had some story telling abilities.”
As mentioned, Panay typically produces more adult themed, R-rated content. The idea to make a kid’s movie seemed like a departure when you look at his body of work. However, he was inspired by his relationships at a younger age to create a modern day children’s movie.
“I’m a kid at heart. I have a brother who I love so much and we were close when we were growing up,” he said. “Our childhood adventures motivated me to make this movie. That was the inspiration behind it. It was really based on him and our relationship. And so I started creating this idea about these kids and what would happen today and I think kids would document the whole thing.”
Though getting a movie off the ground from pre-production to production can be a daunting process, Panay remained focused and was surprised how quickly the movie was able to exceed his expectations.
“The process was fast because Hollywood can move so slow but this movie really moved at a great pace,” he said. “We stayed very authentic to what we initially had intended. This original idea in tone started a certain way and ended the way we had intended.”
Inspiration from 1980’s movies is obvious when watching Earth to Echo. A fun loving person like Panay wanted to bring the child like exploration of creativity and innocence,
“The nostalgia factor for this movie is so wonderful,” he said. “It is all from your life experiences including imagery from movies you’ve seen from your past and the things you ingest as a creative person. We wanted to make something for the next generation.”
Panay was proud that audiences at early screenings of Earth to Echo have responded in a very positive way. He hopes families see it and knows kids will enjoy various characteristics about it.
“It doesn’t talk down to kids and gives people a great feeling yet it doesn’t pander. We wanted it to play on different emotions,” he said. “I’m excited and hope people go. I hope the kids enjoy it. Seeing it with audiences. I really feel like for families and kids, it is a really good time.”