The edict from Fox chairman Bill Mechanic was simple yet daunting: Come up with an animated movie that will attract 13- and 14-year-old boys. ”We said, ‘God, Bill, that’s exactly when they’re rejecting animated movies!”’ recalls Goldman, who decided the best way to bring in the young ‘uns was to go dark. So Goldman and codirector Bluth (”Anastasia”) looked to moody comic books and relied heavily on computer-generated effects to fashion ”Titan”’s ultra-futuristic story of a teenage refugee (Damon) who attempts to save the bordering-on-extinct human race from a band of evil aliens. Barrymore voices the part of a skilled space pilot, and Pullman is an enigmatic captain, while Nathan Lane and John Leguizamo provide comic relief.
Like any action movie worth its popcorn, ”Titan” (which changed titles after Universal laid claim to ”Planet Ice”) has undergone massive rewrites. Goldman admits that the production is ”pushing 12 to 15 different writers,” including ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon. ”I could feel the shifts in story line,” says Pullman, who recorded his part over a year and a half. ”My character is on the edge of good and bad.” Still, the studio behind 1997’s big-boat movie needs an action hero to boost this $55 million production into certifiable blockbuster territory. Says Goldman: ”I was gonna say we should name it ‘Titan I.C.”’