When director Genndy Tartakovsky and writer Michael McCullers started work on Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation in mid-2016, they knew they were embarking on what is first and foremost a comedy, but as the production progressed, they were struck by how relevant its underlying message about tolerance and acceptance had become.
In the film, which opens today and like the other entries in the franchise was inspired by the Tex Avery style of animation, the vampiric Drac (Adam Sandler) reluctantly embarks on a cruise with his family.
He then finds himself falling for the captain of the ship (Kathryn Hahn), who happens to be a human who believes that humans and monsters can’t co-exist.
“The story started with Drac falling in love with his enemy, so the acceptance of human and monster was the underlying story,” said Tartakovsky, who has helmed all three Hotel Transylvania movies. “It’s a big silly comedy and I didn’t want to make it too heavy-handed, but it’s very relevant today.”
Tartakovsky, who was born in Moscow and came to the U.S. as a child in the ‘70s, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the film’s themes has personal meaning for him. “When I immigrated in the ‘70s, my whole goal in life was to be accepted. It was subconscious and it started to work itself into the story.”
The decision to place the characters on a cruise ship also came from a personal experience. “I had a bad cruise experience,” the down-to-earth helmer admits with a smile.
“My in-laws surprised us with a cruise. And I started to see all these families on board and I thought it was a perfect destination for our monster family it’s a hotel on water.”
Asked if he had a favorite character, Tartakovsky responded, “I do like Drac making him funny and heartwarming.” And writing the character as a father, he adds, “It’s more personal.”
Drac’s character further evolves as he falls in love. “We wanted to make him more vulnerable,” the director says, adding with a laugh, “it must be the black socks and white shorts.”
Tartakovsky also shares a special relationship with Blobby and Baby Blobby, since he does the voice acting for these characters.>
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