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Despite the racial tension in Glory Road, the language is fairly restrained. Was that a conscious choice?
When you look at how things are today, I think there's an innocence to 1966. We wanted to capture that innocence. Even though we know there were still a lot of four-letter words, you don't need to use them in this kind of family entertainment. Kids don't need to hear them. They hear them enough at school. They don't need to hear them on the screen in certain movies. It's nice to be able to take that out, though not every movie I make does that.

We get a lot of mail from families looking for quality, big-budget movies that throttle back on sex, language and gratuitous violence—PG films like National Treasure. Do you see the industry moving more in that direction?
I think so. I learned from making Pirates of the Caribbean, Remember the Titans and National Treasure that it's much more entertaining for me to watch an audience enjoy a movie when they're watching it with their whole family. I love to see three generations sitting there having a great time.

That makes good financial sense as well. Will National Treasure 2 and the Pirates sequels try to toe that line?
Yeah, we're going to try to do that. I like to do movies about individuals who change things for the better. [Texas Western coach] Don Haskins and his seven athletes did that. The two coaches in Remember the Titans changed their community for the better. We also made Veronica Guerin, a harder-edged movie about a journalist who lost her life by writing about criminals but changed the drug laws in Ireland for the better. Dangerous Minds, with Michelle Pfeiffer, was about a schoolteacher who turned around kids' lives. I always try to make a positive statement.

Actor Charlton Heston once said, "Motion pictures are the most potent tool for shaping the mind of man ever invented." You have a degree in psychology. Why are movies so powerful?
Because we're storytellers. We tell stories that motivate, involve and educate people. I think the better the story the more involved the audience gets, the more they learn or the more they take away from it. It's like reading a great book. You want to live with those characters. We had some high school and college basketball coaches come see Glory Road and they said, "I can't wait to show this to my players. We're going to have a great practice after that!"

Hollywood is panicked that people aren't going to the theater as much as they used to. What are your feelings about that box-office trend? Is it impacting how you choose projects?
Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don't. This past year we made a lot of very good movies that just didn't engage an audience. The audience wasn't interested, not that they were bad movies. The business isn't dead; it's just waiting for us to make entertainment worth going to see, like event movies. You have a kitchen in your house, right? Yet you go out for dinner. Same thing. You can buy a DVD player and watch a lot of shows on DVD, but you still want a group experience. You want to sit in that theater, stick your hand in your popcorn, be with a bunch of people and laugh and cheer with them. I love seeing Glory Road with a full audience to see kids bouncing out of their seats and cheering. It's a great feeling.

Published January 2006