4 Ways Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ Nearly Sunk
While we're all excited to see Nope, let's talk for a moment about Jordan Peele's Get Out. It's one of the best films of the 21st century, arguably one of the greatest horror movies of all time, and the finest directorial accomplishment by a former Mad TV cast member (with all due apologies to any future cinematic epics helmed by Will Sasso). But because the movie business is rougher than sandpaper boxer briefs, even this modern classic had numerous problems along the way, like how …
Jordan Peele Kept Abandoning The Project Because He Thought It Was "Impossible"
It's hard to remember back to when Jordan Peele wasn't a famous Hollywood director; a time when his day job involved, say, throwing on a ridiculous costume and pretending to advise Hollywood director Joe Dante …
Back then, the Key & Peele star originally envisioned Get Out as a film that would be more of a Guess Who's Coming To Dinner-esque story, but involving the alienation of hanging out with a girlfriend's high school friends where "everybody has a private joke or a story." Peele eventually decided to make a movie more like Rosemary's Baby or The Stepford Wives, in which the horror is derived from men conspiring against women, but about race instead of gender, targeting the "post-racial lie" of the Obama era.
According to Peele, the biggest early obstacles to Get Out were his own self-doubts; he apparently stopped writing the script "about 20 times" because he "thought it was impossible," that "it wasn't going to work," and "no one would ever make this movie." Which is a good lesson to everyone out there, don't give up on your dreams … as long as your dreams don't suck and involve making something as hugely successful as Get Out.
The Production Missed A Tax Rebate And Had To Move To A Haunted Hotel In Alabama
Reportedly, Get Out began shooting in Los Angeles but missed out on a "California tax rebate" and had to get out (hold for laughter) of the state, uprooting the production and heading to Alabama, which, as we all know, is the Hollywood of the South … right?
This was a problem for a few reasons; for one thing, Peele didn't actually want to set the movie in a red state or any place that was "usually categorized as being racist" since that was "too easy." The movie was more about the "false sense of security" that could come in the home of a pro-Obama white liberal, who sounds less like Foghorn Leghorn than more like a series regular from The West Wing.
While Peele found that Alabamians were generally "very sweet," others weren't as enamored, like star Daniel Kaluuya who was understandably weirded out by the number of Confederate flags. (Which makes sense since any number greater than 0 is weird.) Also, the filming also came in the middle of the 2016 election, so there was an abundance of Trump signs littered around the town.
If that wasn't bad enough, the cast and crew were put up in a hotel that some consider "one of the most haunted places in the state of Alabama," Yup, the people making a horror movie about racism, directed by a Shining superfan, spent their off hours in a hotel (which one producer claimed was "very much the Overlook") supposedly haunted by the ghosts of Confederate soldiers – because, apparently, the hotel used to be a hospital during the Civil War. Why has no one made that into a movie?
The Bleak Ending Changed (Because The Awfulness Of The World Was More Obvious)
The best horror movies have truly memorable endings; Michael Myers mysteriously vanishing at the end of Halloween, Father Karras throwing himself out the window in The Exorcist, the world's worst documentarian sloppily dropping their camera in The Blair Witch Project. Get Out concludes with Chris narrowly escaping the clutches of the Armitage family, and, as he's fighting off his murderous girlfriend Rose, a squad car approaches. For a moment, audiences worry that Chris will be unjustly arrested and blamed for the carnage because the system, as we've seen, will unquestionably side with the rich white family – but then it's revealed that it's really his TSA agent buddy Rod!
Originally, though, the movie was going to end with the cops showing up, arresting Chris, and throwing him in prison. Worse still, when Rod goes to visit him, Chris is so defeated that he refuses to name any of the Armitage family's collaborators. It's kind of like if The Shining ended with Wendy and Danny triumphantly escaping the evils of the Overlook Hotel only to be run over by a city bus on the way home.
Peele's reasons for changing the ending make complete sense; while the story was conceived before the Trump presidency, by the time the movie was being made, it was "quite clear the world had shifted," and they were "in this new world where all the racism crept out from under the rocks again." So after test screenings reacted badly to the gut-punch finale ("you could feel the air being sucked out of the room"), the filmmakers went back and shot a new ending that was a tad less soul-crushing.
To The Annoyance Of Everyone, Get Out Competed As A "Comedy" At The Golden Globes
Once it was a critically-acclaimed box office hit, Get Out was nominated for a number of awards, including at the Golden Globes, which was still a thing at the time. But to the confusion and annoyance of seemingly everyone on the planet, it was nominated in the "Musical Or Comedy" category. And since there were no show-stopping song and dance numbers about the "Sunken Place," the awards show seemingly considered it a comedy.
And sure, the movie has some funny parts and was made by a famous comedian, but it's clearly a horror story about racism, not something that should be lumped in with a lavish musical about P.T. Barnum and a movie in which James Franco wears a goofy wig and pretends to be Tommy Wiseau.
The category placement was a decision made by the studio that submitted it for consideration – a problem that also cropped up when laugh-fest The Martian was nominated in the same category, and A Star is Born competed in "Drama" despite being a musical remake of one of the most famous movie musicals of all time. But many fans saw it as an attempt to "deflate" Get Out's cultural importance, and Peele responded to the controversy by Tweeting that his movie was actually "a documentary."
He later elaborated: "The real question is, what are you laughing at? Are you laughing at the horror, the suffering? Are you disregarding what's real about this project? That's why I said, yeah — it's a documentary."
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter!
Thumbnail: Universal Pictures