TURNING RED: Director Domee Shi Shares Some Early Ideas For The Movie's Epic Final Battle (Exclusive)

During our recent conversation with Turning Red director Domee Shi to discuss the Digital and Blu-ray release of the Pixar movie, the filmmaker shared some of the early ideas they had for the epic final battle.

Interviews Opinion

Turning Red - which has a Fresh 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes - tells the story of Mei Lee, a confident, dorky thirteen-year-old torn between staying her mother's dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. And as if changes to her interests, relationships, and body weren't enough, whenever she gets too excited (which for a teenager is practically always), she "poofs" into a giant red panda! 

WARNING: Some Possible SPOILERS For Turning Red Follow!

Earlier this week, we interviewed director Domee Shi about her work on the movie (check back here on Tuesday, the same day Turning Red arrives on Digital, for that). During our conversation, the filmmaker revealed whether it was always the plan for the animated adventure to end with Mei's mom transforming into a Kaiju-sized red panda, sharing some of the other ideas they had for the final battle. 

"That has evolved. I think in the very, very first draft of the movie…it was always going to be a Kaiju battle, but Mei was fighting a completely different character," Shi revealed. "She was fighting her cousin, and it was a completely different type of movie. I think around screening two, we decided on the story about her and her mom, so the Act 3 battle had to be between her and her mom."
 


"That was when we introduced the mom Kaiju battle, but it's evolved a lot. There were versions where Mei got just as big as Ming, and they were these two giant mother, daughter monsters rampaging through Toronto. There was a version where they completely ran all around Toronto," the director adds in the video above. "We saw other landmarks that they destroyed, but then I think the scope got too big and the metaphor got a little bit last because at that point [Laughs] it just was just destruction and we're like, ‘Wait, isn’t this supposed to be about a mother and daughter and not a Kaiju movie?’" Eventually, we decided to hone it into just the concert and really just focus it on that.

"We reminded ourselves," Shi concluded, "that this is a very enhanced, exaggerated version of a mom/teen daughter fight in the living room, but blown up to a massive scale."

If you've watched any of the making-of documentaries on Disney+ about Pixar and Disney Animation's approach to storytelling, you'll know that movies like Turning Red often go through multiple iterations. Clearly, that was the case here as a battle between Mei and her cousin or two massive red pandas rampaging through Toronto definitely sounds like a far cry from what we ended up seeing.

However, given how perfect the movie's ending was and how well it all worked, we think Shi and the Pixar team made the right choice. If we get a sequel, though, the more red panda Kaijus, the better...

Turning Red is available on Digital April 26 and Blu-ray May 3.
 

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