In spring 2013, for NGC’s miniseries The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us, the PR team gathered some of the staff’s cutest (and most willing) kids to recreate some classic movie posters from the 1980s. The results were such a hit, we knew we wanted to do something similar for The ’90s: The Last Great Decade? (which airs July 6-8, at 9 p.m. ET), but with a different twist.
Enter Leon, Lilly and Orson, better known as the geniuses (and occasional wizards) behind CardboardBoxOffice.com. For those who are unfamiliar with the site, after a major relocation, the young family began recreating iconic movie scenes using their leftover moving supplies. After several of their photos went viral last winter, NGC reached out to them to see if they’d be interested in partnering to create some special ’90s themed scenes to help garner excitement for the series. The resulting five photos, which feature scenes from “Wayne’s World,” “The Lion King,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Forrest Gump,” were created specifically for Nat Geo (see photos here), and we hope our fans love them as much as we do. We asked Leon, the family patriarch, to take us behind the scenes.
How and when did the idea to do the Cardboard Box Office photos and website first come about?
We had recently moved to Melbourne, Australia, and, being new parents without family living close by, we found ourselves at home a lot on the weekends. One night we just decided to take a family photo that was spoof the Wes Anderson film “A Life Aquatic.” I have no idea why we did this, but it was kinda fun at the time. We put it up on Facebook and it became hugely popular. People were asking us what film we would do next. Since we had a lot of housebound weekends coming up, we thought we’d turn it into a bit of a family project. We had planned to do about 10 photos in total. To date I think we’ve posted over 40.
Of all the ones you’ve done, do you have a favorite and why?
I think “Lord of the Rings” is my favorite. The costumes, set and lighting just all came together really well. Lilly’s is “Weekend at Bernie’s.” We created the photo in New Zealand at her mother’s house. It was a really fun night and I think that came through in the final image. Orson loved having his grandmother on set. So did we. She’s a handy babysitter.
Looking at the ’90s ones you’ve made for Nat Geo, are there any fun behind-the-scenes stories or unexpected challenges? Which is your favorite and why?
“Wayne’s World” is our favorite. Orson had a great time doing that one too. Transforming our living room into the basement took a huge amount of effort. We had to create everything: the wood panel walls, the couch, NFL supporter flags, the owl painting. But the biggest challenge was the staircase. It was three baby gates connected in a straight line and leaned up against the wall. Those gates aren’t designed for that kind of thing, and the entire thing was creaking and bending. I thought it was going to collapse, so I reinforced it with some wooden spoons and packing tape. That seemed to work. The set stayed up for a whole week!
Is there a particular scene/movie/show you’re dying to do but haven’t been able to execute yet?
Yeah, there are a lot. “Free Willy” would be a great photo, but I just can’t figure out how to suspend an orca made from laundry. I also want to do “Goodfellas” but really can’t think of an appropriate scene. Lilly’s always wanting us to do a rom-com. Thankfully none of them would really work.
Do you think Orson knows he’s a mini-celeb? Do you hope to keep making these as he gets older?
Cardboard Box Office isn’t really on Orson’s radar. The biggest things in his life at the moment are eating bananas and playing with cars. We really want to continue making them as he gets older. The more he understands and becomes involved, the better it will become. And really, without him, Cardboard Box Office is just a weird couple playing make-believe.
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