Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated Suicide Squad is tracking for a $140 million opening this weekend, despite advanced reviews that pan the newest DCEU film for having a confusing plot, a weak villain, and sloppy editing. It shouldn’t be a surprise that there is drama surrounding a DCEU film, considering that reshoots and other issues cropped up for WB’s Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice as well. Slowly we are beginning to see just how discombobulated everything is over at DCEU.
Suicide Squad director David Ayer has come out to defend the product he will be giving us this weekend and has justified those studio-ordered reshoots. But now a new report is giving us a better sense of happened on set and the behind-the-scenes issues. More on the story below.
THR was the first to report on the story.
Any behind-the-scenes drama surrounding these tentpole films can be considered a regular thing. Studios have to be sure that a film makes their release date, untested (sometimes indie) directors are hired to direct said film even though it looks like the producers and studio execs are the ones in charge. Oftentimes, there is a creative clash between the producers and directors, which is what happened with last year’s disastrous Fantastic Four from FOX. Even if that were the case, the Hollywood trade says the credited director is on-scene and in charge so they can avoid DGA issues.
“Efforts to fix perceived problems ratchet up costs, which drive anxiety ever higher,” says the site. But there seemed to be no sense of trouble brewing or even taking place during the production, as many of the cast and crew’s social media told us that it was a happy set with everyone getting along (they even tattooed each other).
But that doesn’t appear to the case, as there is word that the studio may have interfered with the creative and editing process of the film.
So when we hear things like “grueling moments, multiple editors and competing cuts,” it’s almost as if we should be surprised by the news. No production for a film that has to meet a deadline is issue-free. But once again, the reports surrounding WB’s DCEU tell us that the creative heads behind the DC shared universe are rushing everything. This wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve heard about these creative issues. Last year, a report came out saying that WB had directors coming and going, and multiple writers signing on for competition scripts, giving the impression that the studio was making things up for the DC Extended Universe as they go. This year, a source close to the production said that Ayer penned the script in six weeks, and after it was complete they started shooting. Another source says the release date was an absolute lock with no option to push it back.
The studio was also locked with Ayer directing the film as it has become almost common for these big budget studios to hire smaller names to direct tentpoles. This is to cut costs as more household name directors come at a bigger price and oftentimes want more creative control over the project than the producers making it. Sometimes it just comes down to these big name directors not being interesting in helming a blockbuster tentpole. But even so, the smaller lesser-known directors may have some differences in the vision of the film and take themselves out of the picture just as we’ve seen with Edgar Wright and Ava DuVernay over at Marvel. Even Alan Taylor and Joss Whedon, who were behind Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, respectively, described their own difficulties with creating their films for Marvel. So it’s not as though everything is just peachy with DC’s comic book movie studio competitors.
Things only got worse when, THR says another source said, WB grew more nervous about Suicide Squad after the tepid response of Batman v Superman. “Kevin [Tsujihara, WB studio chief] was really pissed about damage to the brand,” one executive close to the studio reportedly said. So there was a lot riding on Suicide Squad being a success both commercially and critically, and WB ordered those reshoots. But reshoots are a part of the everyday process for any film, especially one of this size, and yet even with the reported reshoots, WB felt that “Suicide Squad didn’t deliver on the fun, edgy tone promised in the strong teaser trailer for the film.”
Those reshoots may have been a product of the different cuts that were shown to test audiences in Northern California. In May, test audiences were offered Ayer’s “more somber version and a lighter, studio-favored version” when put against the fun upbeat tone that the trailers showed, it put the studio in somewhat of a bind, and it appears they tried to have their cake and eat it too. “Warners set about working on a different cut, with an assist from Trailer Park, the company that had made the teaser.”
Now it should be interesting to see if Ayer’s true vision of the film will eventually be released on the eventual Blu-ray Edition. Studio interference comes at no surprise to anyone, but the fact is that WB decided to meddle in the filmmaking process as a response to BvS‘s disappointing performance at the box office. The result of this interference is shedding more light on how WB is just trying to catch up to Marvel Studios by any means necessary. THR says the film cost $145 million to make, which an insider told them that in order for the studio to break even, the film would have to gross around $750-$800 million. “If they get anywhere close to that, they’ll consider it a win,” according to the report.
Suicide Squad opens in theaters August 5, 2016.
For the full report, head on over to THR.