EXCLUSIVE HOT RUMOR: Upcoming Reshoots To Give JUSTICE LEAGUE A Second Major Facelift
Shortly after we published the original report on the extensive Justice League reshoots, our source contacted us to offer further clarification:
“There are more reshoots COMING SOON. There have been a bunch but they’re going to do MORE.”
The clarification was necessary because initial conversations made it unclear whether or not Warner Bros. was finally done overhauling the film. Now we know that, in addition to reshoots and on-the-spot rewrites, the studio has scheduled even additional photography to help get the final product into tip top shape.
Justice League fans, we’ve got some big stuff to share with you here. But before we get started, let’s make a couple of things crystal clear:
- Yes, we know reshoots are a normal part of every major film’s production cycle. Those kinds of run-of-the-mill business-as-usual reshoots are not what this story is about.
- We are, by no means, inferring that this means doom or gloom for the DCEU tentpole. There are plenty of films that have been given serious facelifts in recent history that went on to be pretty damn good, so none of this is meant to say “Grab on tight! JUSTICE LEAGUE is gonna take you on an express train to Suckville!“
Which brings us to some really interesting news we’ve just received from one of our highly trusted sources…
We’re hearing that Justice League has undergone some serious reshoots.
[Quick Note on Our Source: This is the same person that informed us of how extensive the reshoots for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ended up being- which we broke when we worked elsewhere, and this person is so intimately connected to the Justice League production that they told us about Ben Affleck’s visit to rehab weeks before the star publicly acknowledged his personal struggles. Even as we tried to verify the Affleck story, with several people saying there was no truth to it, this source was adamant that the Batman star was seeking help for an alcohol problem. We didn’t run the story, because we’re not a celebrity gossip site, but when Affleck eventually revealed his rehab stint to the world, it only cemented our faith in this source, and confirmed that they’re very close to the situation.]
So about the serious reshoots…Initially, we shrugged. “So? All these kinds of movies do. That’s totally normal. Who cares?” That was our attitude about it, and we asked them what was so special about what was going on with Justice League. We specifically asked if it was the standard kinds of pick-ups and reshoots that these films typically require, or if they were the kind that were going to change the film in a major way. They responded that the changes being made to the film were “significant.”
“How significant?” we asked.
Speaking on a condition of anonymity, they said that in the 17 months between the start of principal photography and the final cut arriving in theaters in November that the film will have essentially been “remade…twice.”
They refused to offer any further details, but they said that Warner Bros. is really putting everything it has into overhauling the movie. Apparently, they didn’t like what they were seeing and so the film has had a lot of work put into trying to make it better while on its way towards its November 2017 release.
Again, this can all be for the best. As a fan of these characters and stories, we’re all pulling for a badass movie.
But just how important is it for Warner Bros. to get this movie right?
Justice League is set to be the culmination of years of planning, going back to 2012 when Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was in production. Snyder and the brain trust at Warner Bros. knew full well that they wanted the film to act as the first entry in a new shared universe of movies based on the DC Comics property that the studio has owned since the late 1960s. The film would introduce us to an all-new take on Superman, which would be followed up by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice– a movie that would blow everything wide open by giving us fresh interpretations of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor, as well as glimpses of The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. The plan with that film was to set up DC’s marquee super-team: The Justice League.
The problem is…Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t really pass the baton on so nicely, in terms of transferring momentum to Justice League. The film was ravaged by critics, and it was extremely divisive amongst fans (who awarded it the same so-so CinemaScore they gave the failed Green Lantern movie). From a financial standpoint, trusted industry news outlet Deadline’s experts have deduced that the film only made a net profit of $105.7 million, which is quite mediocre when you consider that Warner Bros. invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the film hoping it would make north of a billion dollars the way the previous two solo Batman films had. Instead, it topped out at $873 worldwide, with the lion’s share of that money going towards covering costs.
To illustrate how disappointing the net profit margin for Dawn of Justice was, Warner Bros. actually made more money off of Suicide Squad than they did on the epic first-ever cinematic confrontation between Batman and Superman. Yes, that other 2016 DC release brought the studio $158 million, as per Deadline.
How does all of this tie into what’s going on with Justice League? Well, due to the way that the studio had lined up its production slate for the DCEU, the superhero smackdown entered production mere weeks after Batman v Superman began its disappointing run. And it did so with essentially the same creative forces as Dawn of Justice, i.e. creative forces that produced a film that underperformed and failed to create widespread goodwill for the DC brand. This would mean that Warner Bros. would have to roll up its sleeves and be very hands-on with the production of Justice League, in order to make sure that it soared where Dawn of Justice soured.
Rumors began right away that Snyder was no longer going to be the DCEU’s visionary, and that he was going to be on a very tight leash while working on Justice League. To that end, Ben Affleck and George Miller- two successful directors- were brought onto the film as producers. Meanwhile, higher up the food chain, Warner Bros. brought in DC Comics guru Geoff Johns to be the new Chief Creative Officer and Co-President of DC Entertainment. The studio hoped that surrounding Snyder with the right people might help him create a film that had wider appeal and be more beloved by the masses.
You may recall that Jason Momoa posted this image, celebrating the initial “wrapping” of Justice League‘s production way back in October of 2016. (Side Note: Knowing what we now know about Affleck, the image is kind of hard to look at.)
Several months later, though, Momoa was summoned back to the Justice League set for reshoots. Heck, his 2018 solo Aquaman movie was even delayed a grand total of five months (from July 27, to October 5, to December 21) during Justice League‘s post-production cycle. The actor had to cancel an Oz Comic-Con appearance as recently as March because he was needed for JL, to give you some sense of what the reshoots have meant to the actor’s schedule.
We were unable to get a timetable for when, exactly, the reshoots took place, or a list of who was involved. All we were told was the sheer size and scope of the work that was done, and the general idea that these were not the standard kinds of reshoots that major motion pictures typically undergo. Our source would know. No, these were the kinds of reshoots that imply there’s a very nervous studio trying to do everything it can to fix something.
With the recent news that King Arthur was set to be a colossal bomb for Warner Bros, and with projections for Wonder Woman making it look like it’ll open $20 million less than Marvel’s Doctor Strange (who has nowhere near the kind of household recognition or importance of DC’s iconic heroine) in its opening frame, you really can’t blame the studio for being nervous.
But, again, none of this is to say that Justice League won’t turn out great. Just look at the aforementioned Rogue One. That film ended up having half of itself reshot (with a different writer and director, no less!) and still ended up being well-received.
I’m reminded of a quote that came from Riz Ahmed, one of the stars of Rogue One, around the time of its release:
“There were a ton of reshoots. But if people want to read anything into that, I’d encourage them to read into it the guts it takes to unpick stitching rather than just try to embroider over it, to make it right. I admire [Lucasfilm President] Kathleen [Kennedy] and Gareth [Edwards] and the whole team for having the guts to go, ‘Let’s reopen this. Let’s do some of this again.’ I think it’s because they really care – and hopefully that’s something that shows when people see the film.”
Why do I bring that up? Because it speaks to the idea that extensive reshoots aren’t inherently bad. It all comes down to the way in which the additional work is incorporated into the film. Are they reopening Justice League and fixing things from the inside out like LucasFilm did with Rogue One? Or are they just adding a bunch of scenes they think will smooth out the edges, but end up making for an unfinished and uneven final product like what happened with David Ayer’s Suicide Squad? The latter film was destroyed by critics for being too scattershot and inconsistent, and it was later revealed that the studio had cut together “six or seven” different versions of the movie after spending millions on reshoots and extending post-production on the DC flick.
As DC fans, we can only hope that Warner Bros. learned from last year’s mistakes and takes a more measured approach towards the overhaul of Justice League. Even Batman v Superman suffered from hasty decision-making, with many fans thinking the “Ultimate Edition” that came out a few months later on blu-ray was vastly superior to the theatrical cut that the studio created of the film when they became concerned about the final product. The studio’s not in a great place right now, and they need these big budget franchise films to start living up to the time and money they’re investing in them.
When a film about a relatively little-known character like Deadpool makes its studio 3x as much profit as the loaded Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did (Fox made $322 net profit on the movie), you know its time to start reevaluating how you’re doing things. Let’s hope Warner Bros. is taking its time and creating a Justice League movie we’ll never forget.
We’ll just have to wait and see. For now? Just know that things have been anything but business-as-usual for our Super Friends in the Justice League.
Stay Tuned! I’ll be discussing all this and more on tomorrow’s episode of the El Fanboy Podcast, and the talented staff here at The Splash Report will be keeping you up-to-date on all things DC in the weeks to come! Don’t keep us a secret. Share this article with all your friends and let them know where the best scoops are!