The World's End Creators Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright Versus Starbucksification

"Give us five minutes and we'll change the world."

A Late Curry,” adds Pegg, referring to Hoffman and Keener’s Oscar bid from last year, A Late Quartet.

Wright is more than happy to spread that sense of “where did the time go?” to his audience. Having co-written the screenplay with Pegg, the director explains that he made the characters long for 1990 “to make people feel old. That was 23 years ago, guys!”

Well aware of the culture’s creeping ‘90s nostalgia, Wright laughs, “We wanted to get in early and kill it.”

Edgar Wright, left, positions martin Freeman on the set of The World's End.
Laurie Sparham for Focus Features
Edgar Wright, left, positions martin Freeman on the set of The World's End.

”We’re looking to do the ‘00s nostalgia now,” says Pegg. “People will say, ‘Remember the first iPod? It was white and chunky, and it was hilarious.’”

”Like me!” chirps Frost.

As with the other two films in the Cornetto Trilogy--so called because of fleeting cameos by the ice cream brand in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz--The World’s End is also a cheeky British retort to Hollywood.

”A lot of movies [today] are about nostalgia, about recreating things from childhood,” explains Wright. “Big studio films are either remakes of films from 20 years ago or adaptations of toys or inspired by things from your childhood. There’s also the man-child genre in American comedy, which is usually about glorifying the idea of being a big kid. So we liked the idea of giving that a twist. By forcibly trying to turn back the clock, Gary [Pegg’s character] is sometimes the villain of the piece. We wanted to combine all of these”-- alienation, nostalgia gone awry, and rampant Starbucksification--”into one hellish night. As soon as the bottle is uncorked, things go wildly wrong. In that sense, it mirrors a night of drinking, because no bar crawl ever ends happily. It’s always going to end in annihilation. All of the different words for ‘drunk’ lend themselves to images of devastation: ‘wasted,’ ‘annihilated,’ ‘obliterated.’ All lead to this boozy Armageddon.”

Well before the American release date of The World’s End, Pegg is already thinking forward to the DVDs. The movie is “definitely one of those films you need to see more than once,” he says. “This isn’t some cynical marketing ploy of ours to get people to pay more than once. [The film] is engineered to be re-watched. In this day and age, thinking further down the line with DVD and stuff, you owe it to audiences to make films bear repeated viewings, to bury stuff in there that you couldn’t possibly get on a first watch. Sometimes we’ll put a punchline before a setup so you won’t be able to get the joke until you see the setup. Which means you won’t be able to get the joke until you see it a second time. So foreshadowing, callbacks and things, you’ll pick up on it all more clearly the second time.”

Then he describes his own dystopia: “When everyone who’s bought these DVDs has one and there’s a surfeit of DVDs in five or six years, you can get a free DVD with every box of Cornettos.”

In keeping with their vigilance against nostalgia, neither Pegg nor Wright seems willing to indulge fans by returning to their past films. “The problem with most sequels,” says Wright, “is that they have to return to the status quo. Or if you do a second film--no disrespect--but after the first one, it becomes more ridiculous. Like, with Scream, Neve Campbell has been through the wringer four times! When you’re doing a sitcom, when we were doing Spaced, you always have to return to the status quo at the end because it’s too difficult to change everyone’s lives every half-hour. But with these movies, they’re extremely final. In the course of a movie, you can change not just five people’s lives, you can change the world. Which is fun!”

Adds Pegg, “There’s the headline: ‘Give us five minutes and we’ll change the world.’”

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