Aja and The Weinstein Company wanted to promote the film at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con, however they would have had to drastically censor the clips they wanted to show the audience and that was something they were unwilling to do. So instead of showing PG-rated clips, they opted to head to a nearby theater and screen the clips to Comic Con attendees away from the actual event venue. The move paid off as the buzz generated by the gory clips definitely raised the interest level for fence-sitters who weren't sure what to expect.
During Comic Con, Aja sat down with journalists and explained the attraction of Piranha 3-D. "Before The Hills Have Eyes, I received a script that was the idea of the Spring Break attack for Piranha. We got really excited about that idea, and then we went to do The Hills Have Eyes. A couple years after, Dimension approached us and asked us if we were still interested in developing the movie, and we were. We pitched them the way we would like to rewrite the script, and they loved the character and the suspense, and we developed all that and wanted to make everything in 3-D. That’s really how it started."
On the Reaction at Comic Con:
Alexandre Aja: "I think we were very happy. We sweated a lot to make this movie. It was a very tough shoot, in the desert, during the summer, in the water. It had everything you can imagine. To present for the first time, even only nine minutes, and to see such a great reaction and an amazing response, it’s just great."
"I was very excited to come and show some footage in that 6,000 person hall, but I couldn’t go there and show only PG-friendly and family-friendly material. To be off-site, in a smaller screening room, was great. We started late because an hour before the screening I was still mixing and call-timing the reel in L.A. I traveled with the red suitcase, like the football, and took a private plane."
On This Version of Piranha:
Alexandre Aja: "First, it’s not a remake. Hollywood changed in the last year to become a more marketing-driven Hollywood, where people who are running the studios now are more like marketing people, and they need titles. So, you have a lot of famous titles, like Piranha, but they’re not necessarily a remake."
Piranha is not a remake, period. It’s not the same story, it’s not the same characters, and not the same piranha. It’s a completely different movie. So, it was not about remaking it. It was more like the right timing to do that kind of movie. I never think about what people want to see. Me, as a moviegoer, before being a filmmaker, I try to think about what movie I would like to see. When I read the first draft six years ago, of piranha attacking during Spring Break, I thought, 'This is exactly the fun ride I want to watch.' We rewrote the script with Greg Levasseur and we created a story where we have all these characters, and we reinvented the ‘80s guilty pleasure movie. It’s a summer movie where we’re delivering on every level."
On Casting '80s Movies Icons:
Alexandre Aja: "In the genre, unfortunately, you sometimes have the studio tell you, 'No, go with more unknown people because it’s a scary movie,' and I disagree. Casting is so important. It’s so important to have strong actors to tell a story because if you don’t believe in the character, how can you be scared for them? I started casting the movie with Elisabeth Shue. She was the first one to be cast."
"Of course, when you think about Mr. Goodman, Christopher Lloyd came as an obvious choice right away, but we didn’t know if we could manage to convince him to do it. What we managed to create is some kind of post-modern cast, where each of them bring something to the table that’s a little bit more than just themselves."
On the Process of Putting Together Piranha 3-D:
Alexandre Aja: "When I approach a story or movie, the story is the most important thing. We were talking a lot about the 3-D and how amazing an immersion tool it is, but the storytelling is the most important immersion tool you can find and you can invent. It’s still the most important thing. So, this is about the story first, and then it’s about character, and then it’s about a few scenes that you really, really want to shoot."
"As a filmmaker, you get excited about some set pieces. The Spring Break massacre in this film was a specific, huge set piece that’s 25 minutes, that I was really excited about. And then the amount of blood came with the story. I never thought, 'Oh, I want to make a movie where I’m going to use 100,000 gallons of blood.' No, it’s because of the story. You have to be realistic. There is a little bit more than a gallon in a human being. If you have a few thousand people, that makes a lot of blood. I’m very realistic in my use of blood."
On Figuring Out How Far to Push Things:
Alexandre Aja: "I never really think about that. I try to think about me, as an audience member, and it comes from there. I remember that in High Tension we had a scene that we had to not do because it crossed the line a little bit. But usually it’s because I’m always on the side of the characters, rather than the side of the people attacking them. I get realistic. It’s not gratuitous. This movie is different because we have that fun component. It might be the most bloody and the most gory movie I ever made, but at the same time, it’s not as traumatic and scary as The Hills Have Eyes, in a very realistic way. The movie is realistic. All the characters are realistic and in the story. It’s not a spoof. But then you want to have fun with that as well. That Spring Break world is under attack. Spring Breakers are so extreme, in a different way. They are completely drunk and doing drugs and having sex on boats under the sun. It’s so bizarre that you have to find funny ways to get them killed."