Opportunity came when in the US the interest rates were so high that independent producers were not able to raise money for indie film productions. In the 1980’s, I formulated a structure where independent producers could save 30-50% of the production budget if they film in Hungary. At that time, I was the exclusive representative for the Hungarian film industry in the US. I brought 3 indie movies to Hungary before I signed the producer’s contract with a Chicago-based company.
In 1982, the challenge was enormous but I wanted to achieve the impossible. In the iron curtain, I wanted to have a Woodstock-size concert as part of the Grizzly movie with 50,000 people. In those days when 10 people gathered together, the police could interrupt and could arrest them.
The thriller we were filming included cutting edge English rock groups and a 17’ tall mechanical bear for the action scenes which was as big of a challenge as building a stage in the middle of a Russian military training field. Working with the American cast, George Clooney, Laura Dern, Charlie Sheen, Louise Fletcher, John Rhys-Davies, Deborah Foreman and Dick Anthony Williams was a lifetime experience. But the joy was not without merit. A perfect storm was about to happen. My partner disappeared on the first day of shooting the concert and there was no money to continue with the film. I refinanced the movie and continued with principal photography. Thank god to the Hungarian crew and all professional people who became my friend during this hard time. The gravity of this large production with 300 people on the set was so huge that the movie was pre-destined to be finished.
Later on in 1988, after a long fight with my producer’s partner, he gave up the movie free and clear. I’ve always seen the potential in this movie but it needed a different “hand”, a different point of view, and a different message to make this movie work.
After 1990, my life changed and I became very successful in 2 different businesses. In 2018, the time was right to rethink the Grizzly movie and create a challenging new narrative with a new message which could fill the missing part in the movie. Restoring the old footages was a great challenge. But in the summer of 2019, we got a clean, super crispy digital transfer from London. During the waiting period, we worked on the new script and re-erected the film from its dormant stage.
We didn’t want to make a 21st century movie when we looked at the footages. We wanted to keep it as original as possible to have an authentic American movie quality from the 80’s. Something that was missed or lost and found later on to attract enthusiastic cult lovers. With the casting power and the existing entertainment value with a big bear, we believe the movie will resonate with today’s audience. Animal movies are rare and very difficult to do right. There has been no bear action movie since 1976 since the first Grizzly movie. It was a great financial and entertainment success. I consider this “second chance” for the sequel a real victory for the movie and for me as a person who stuck to my dream regardless of all the horrifying circumstances.
Suzanne Csikos Nagy
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