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THE BOX

About The Production
"There are always consequences.”

"At the heart of ‘The Box' is a moral dilemma,” says writer/director Richard Kelly. "What would you do if offered the opportunity for great wealth but it came at the cost of a human life, someone you don't know?”

That is the question posed in the original short story Button, Button, written by master of suspense Richard Matheson, which captured Kelly's imagination and serves as the basis and inspiration for "The Box.” "I've always admired Matheson for his ability to create stories that both haunt and entertain,” he says. "I was immediately taken with this deceptively simple tale and I wanted to know more. Where does the box come from? What does it mean? Could the people who push that button ever hope to redeem themselves…and how? It had a tantalizing, cliffhanger of an ending that made me want to jump to the other side to see what happens next.”

Producer Sean McKittrick, whose first feature film collaboration with Kelly was the director's acclaimed debut, "Donnie Darko,” sees "The Box” as "a classically told suspense tale and character study—with a twist. Any time you're dealing with money, it can affect people's morality or ethics. But you have to remember there are always repercussions.”

Cameron Diaz, who stars as Norma Lewis, takes a similarly analytic approach. "It's a question we all kept asking ourselves. I feel that no one really knows what they would do until they're faced with that kind of decision. On the surface, it's easy to say, ‘I know exactly what I'd do.' But circumstances could be different at any given time, for any person. It's not as simple as it seems.”

Norma and Arthur Lewis are an average couple, with the same concerns and aspirations as anyone. Says Kelly, "The idea is that the people faced with this fate-altering dilemma are just like you or me, our parents or neighbors. There is nothing fatally flawed about the Lewises, nor is there anything special about them. They're good, hard-working, loving people who are raising a child, trying to get by, and living a little bit beyond their means—a situation as relevant today as it was when the story was written.”

As the story opens, Arthur receives the bitter news that he has been denied the promotion he was expecting, meaning that their bright young son will no longer be able to attend the area's best school and Norma will have to forgo reconstructive surgery on a lifelong, painful injury. It's at this vulnerable point that they receive a visit from Arlington Steward and his bizarre proposition, in the form of a modest wooden box with a red button.

What Steward offers them, says Kelly, "is the possibility of an escape.” In a larger sense, the director notes, "What fascinates me is the complexity of the instant-gratification, push-button society we live in today, with our handheld devices, TV remotes, computers, and all the ways in which we effortlessly solve our problems or meet our needs, large and small. We toss off messages without much thought to the consequences or ramifications. It was a little different 30 years ago, when the story is set, and that's one of the reasons why I wanted to keep it in the 1970s, when the story was first published. Pushing a button was a more deliberate act back then. For Norma and Arthur, it could be the most deliberate act of their lives.”

It's a theme James Marsden immediately picked up on, commenting, "We live in a world where we can achieve almost anything with the press of a button. And I know it's supposed to be making our lives easier, but something tells me we may be paying a higher price for it in the long run.” Marsden, who stars as young husband and father Arthur Lewis, also sees their intimate story having larger implications. "It's a story about one couple's experience but it could have a societal reach.”

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