5 Eagerly-Anticipated Movies That Are In Serious Trouble
I think it's safe to say that right now, you're probably waiting for a certain movie to come out like a ravenous wolf that only gets fed by Hollywood Reporter articles. Maybe that movie is Deadpool 2, or maybe it's Solo: A Star Wars Story, or maybe you're like me and you're fist-pumping to the Christopher Robin trailer. Regardless, it's a nice feeling, being excited for stuff. And that's why it always sucks to hear that a movie that you're looking forward to might somehow be in trouble. Or, in the case of these five movies, big, big trouble.
A Lawsuit Is Holding Up Another Mad Max Movie ... Maybe Forever
People love to talk about how nonstop action is a bad thing when it comes to making "good" movies, as if punching and sick car races are a lesser form of art than a film in which people just sort of frown at each other for two hours. But director George Miller, whom you might remember from Happy Feet 2 and also some Road Warrior thing, proved all of those people wrong with Mad Max: Fury Road, a montage of monster truck collisions that was so meticulous and engaging that it won six Oscars.
Miller has talked about having enough script material for two more Mad Max movies (including a Furiosa spinoff), and while this doesn't match my goal of seeing a new Mad Max every week until the Earth implodes, I'll take what I can get. But those scripts may never see the light of day, because apparently Warner Bros. refuses to pay Miller his bonuses.
According to a lawsuit delivered by Miller's production company, Warner Bros. has been refusing a $9 million bonus that Miller was supposed to receive when he brought in Fury Road under budget. The cost of Fury Road was in the hundreds of millions of dollars, so your initial reaction might be, "Well, nine million sounds like a drop in the bucket." And I felt that way too, until I remembered that, holy shit, nine million dollars. Also, most of you work for an employer that would have you taken outside and beaten if you demanded $9, let alone $9 million.
Still, the Warner side doesn't come off looking great here, as their main counterargument is, "You said Fury Road would be 100 minutes [the end result was 120], and that it would be PG-13!" And if they're getting mad about Fury Road not ending with Immortan Joe apologizing to Furiosa for being such a dang ol' woman-enslaving jerk, it's hard to believe that they'll ever finance another film like the gloriously R-rated Fury Road. Also, Miller is 73 years old, so you have to wonder how much longer he'll feel like spending months in the desert filming shit.
Add it all up, and the odds are that these films will simply never get made. If so, let's just sit back and realize that the film industry is one in which your creation can gross $380 million, win universal acclaim, and still be met with grunts and shrugs from the suits.
The Standalone Batman Movie That No One Can Seem To Get Excited About
Remember the golden age of, umm, 2013, when we had so much goodwill left over from the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy that we decided to cram the dude so hard into a Superman series that the series became mostly about Batman? At that point, we were all riding high on the Batman wave, and if you'd told me around then that Matt Reeves, the director of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and the ridiculously underrated Let Me In, was gonna be handling a Batflick, I would've shit my pants and punched the air (not in that order) out of excitement.
Fast-forward ... Christ ... five years, and a Matt Reeves Batman movie feels like the dude who can't get a chant started at a sports event. Originally, it was supposed to be a Batman movie written and directed by its star, Ben Affleck, which was good-esque news. Affleck made The Town, so he's pretty capable behind the camera, and him playing Batman has always been a victory, in the "Thank god it's not Matt Damon" sense. Also, news came out that he rewrote scenes in Batman v. Superman while in costume, so at the very least, it's funny to imagine Protein Machine Ben Affleck squeezed into his BDSM armor, typing "FADE IN: BATCAVE."
But then, right after we saw a sweet 30 seconds of Deathstroke footage on Affleck's Instagram, it was announced that he wasn't gonna direct the thing. Then we found out that he probably wasn't gonna be involved in writing it either. And finally, that maybe it wasn't even gonna star him, and that they were going to recast the role with Jake Gyllenhaal, who, after missing out on playing Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2, and winning the silver medal in the race to be Nolan's Batman, was finally going to get his spandex spotlight. But Gyllenhaal dismissed this rumor, probably because he'd like to continue doing whatever the wonderful fuck he was trying to do in things like Okja.
But this is Batman. A short while ago, Warner Bros. would've dressed a particularly long turd in a cape if it meant putting out another Dark Knight anything. But after Batman v Superman underwhelmed audiences around the world, and Justice League -- aka Batman's Career Fair -- made less money than the previous Superhero King of Financial Disappointment The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we can't seem to get anyone pumped about the guy. The last concrete news we heard was that the script was being rewritten ... a year ago. And in a world in which we get an update every six hours about whether Robert Downey Jr. is enjoying the catering, that's not a good sign.
Creed 2 Suddenly Looks Like A Cheesy Rocky Sequel
I loved Creed. Ryan Coogler's direction was impeccable (he also wrote the screenplay), Michael B. Jordan was a killer protagonist, and Sylvester Stallone proved that he can be a hell of an actor when he's not being an Expendable. It won a bunch of awards, including an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe win for Stallone, and was almost universally praised by critics. It's been such a great rebirth of the series after it was trashed in the '80s by a bunch of increasingly goofy sequels that involved things like Balboa fighting a Soviet science experiment played by Dolph Lundgren.
Look, I've got no problems with Dolph. In the later Universal Soldier films, the dude showed off some decent acting chops, playing a man who's been killed and brought back to life and cloned so many times that he struggles to grasp his own memories. But his character in the Rocky series, despite having killed Apollo Creed in IV, doesn't have a lot of actual emotional weight, which is what Creed had in spades. Rocky V is bad, but IV was the series' cartoonish low point.
But surely Ryan Coogler will turn this into something special, right? A thoughtful commentary on the ridiculous 1985 film? Ah, see, that's the problem. Coogler isn't involved this time, neither as writer nor as director. You know who is helping write it? Sylvester Stallone. You really don't know what you're going to get here. Stallone oversaw a series that started as a character study of a down-to-earth boxer forced to grapple with his own inadequacies, then transformed into being about an oiled-up superhuman doing battle with a series of flamboyant Super Punch-Out!! characters.
That's why the franchise was a punchline for two whole decades until the more grounded Rocky Balboa came out. I would hate to be talking about Creed 3 in 2025, and be forced to utter the sentence "Creed was great, but the series really went downhill when Creed fought that android that had been programmed to beat him."
The New Predator Is Getting A Ton Of Reshoots
Imagine the dream team to take on a modern Predator movie. Did you imagine Shane Black (director of The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Iron Man 3) directing and co-writing a script with Fred Dekker (writer of Night Of The Creeps, The Monster Squad, and the unmade '80s 3D Godzilla movie)? Because I sure did. And the best part about our wishes is that they're actually coming true. A Shane Black / Fred Dekker Predator movie is coming out later this year! We get to live in a universe where this is happening. Us! Stupid, unworthy us!
Oh, and the last third of the movie apparently got reshot, so don't mind that.
Reshoots are nothing new in Hollywood. People have been reshooting movies for as long as they've been shooting them, and nowadays, reshoots are built into a blockbuster's production schedule. If the goal is to create the ultimate crowd-pleasing moneymaker, you're prepared to drop entire characters and storylines -- and shoot entirely new ones -- after the first round of test screenings. It's not like there's some clear creative vision anyone is adhering to.
But ... this isn't the 20th Marvel movie or a Star Wars spinoff hoping to propel another calendar year of merchandise sales. The whole point here is that you're getting a unique piece of work from artists with a distinct voice. Black in particular is all about subverting genre tropes in clever ways, often winding up in the last place an audience expects (probably one reason The Nice Guys bombed). Call me cynical, but I have trouble believing that the instructions for reshooting the entire third act of their Predator reboot were, "Make it weirder, Shane! We're in the business of blowing minds, not giving in to damned focus groups!"
The New Mutants Has Repeatedly Switched Writers, And Genres, In The Course Of Production
When it comes to X-Men movies, we are now freshly in the Post-Jackman Era. We can no longer rely on Wolverine's intensely charming world-weariness to steer our mutant vessels to shore, so it's time to take some chances. One of those chances seemed to be The New Mutants. Featuring characters who hadn't been spotlighted in X-Men films before, the first trailer (released near Halloween 2017) made it look like a straight supernatural horror movie that happened to have laser beam people in it.
But the movie that trailer was teasing was only half horror. According to some outlets, the other half was like a John Hughes young adult thing. Don't get me wrong, I want an X-Men horror flick, but an X-Men-based Pretty In Pink sounds deeeeelightful. Anyway, from the studio's reaction to the reaction to the trailer (itself possibly cashing in on the IT remake smashing box office records), it seems like half horror wasn't horror-y enough. As Stephen King once said on the issue, "If you wanna be horror, better be the horror-est / I must confess, that's why they call me horror's best." He legit said that.
Anyway, 20th Century Fox decided that it wanted to implement reshoots and double down on the spooky stuff, while also adding more characters. This goes way beyond the typical superhero franchise reshoots mentioned earlier. The release date has now been delayed all the way to August 2, 2019, and it was revealed that the studio wanted over half of the film to be reshot in order to further change the tone of the movie.
To make it worse, all of this is just circling back around to the director's "original vision" for the film, an original vision that was only valid to the studios after a different, non-X-Men movie was successful, and after the original writers were replaced and brought back (there are rumors that up to a dozen writers were involved in the script at various points). And hey, maybe the end product will be fine. Some things do iterate their way to success.
If so, let that be a lesson to all aspiring directors: You will get to make your dream projects one day, as long as it's similar to someone else's very successful dream project.
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