James Wan opens up about birth of horror classic 'Saw'

Wan, who was born in Malaysia drew inspiration from movies like "Poltergeist"

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James Wan opens up about birth of horror classic SAW
James Wan opens up about birth of horror classic 'SAW'

The director behind several successful horror films James Wan, recently revealed he got the idea for "Saw" in the mid-to-late '90s. 

Wan, who was born in Malaysia and later moved to Australia, fell in love with film at a young age and drew inspiration from movies like "Poltergeist." 

However, he faced challenges as there were few Asian filmmakers making mainstream genre films at the time.

Wan's life changed when he met Leigh Whannell, an aspiring actor and screenwriter. Their shared love for genre films led them to create the indie horror hit "Saw" in 2004. 

The idea for "Saw" came to Wan while he was in the shower, envisioning a film with two people trapped in a bathroom and chained to opposite sides of the room. He pitched the concept to Whannell, and they spent a year developing the screenplay. 

And one day, as I was in the shower, I thought, “What about a movie with two people stuck in a bathroom with a really grungy toilet? They have no idea how they got in there, and they’re chained to opposite sides of the room.” So I only knew the rough setup, and then I knew how I wanted the story to end with Jigsaw, this person who put them in that situation. And so I pitched a really simple setup and finale to Leigh, and he was like, “Oh, wow. Let me think about it.” So he went off, and he came back to me with Saw.

To showcase their vision and generate interest, they decided to create a short film. The short helped them secure a deal, with Wan as the director and Whannell as the lead actor.

After taking the short around Hollywood, they faced initial resistance from studios and producers who were hesitant about their involvement. However, Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Gregg Hoffman believed in the project and gave them the opportunity to make the film on a low budget. The release of "Saw" in 2004 exceeded expectations, grossing over $104 million on a budget of slightly more than $1 million. 

This success propelled Wan and Whannell into the spotlight and established "Saw" as one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood.

Wan's directorial career took off from there, with him directing 10 films across various genres and achieving box office success, including directing the highest-grossing film in the Fast Saga and the highest-grossing DC film. He also co-created successful horror franchises like "The Conjuring," "Saw," and "Insidious."