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11 Movies Where The Reshoots Were Painfully Obvious

Reshoots are often treated with suspicion by people not in the movie business. They take it as a sign a movie is in serious trouble and desperately needs fixing. But the truth is most major movies build reshoots into their schedule. The studio reviews the footage shot in principal production and find they’re missing certain pieces that would make it flow better. This could be as small as adding insert or reaction shots or filming a whole new action scene or subplot. But if the reshoots are pulled off correctly, an audience wont be able to tell the difference.

That said, there are plenty of well documented movies that really were in trouble and undertook severe reshoots to try and fix the problems. In some cases the movies are already unfixable but the studios have to try and salvage their investment somehow. So they’ll throw money at it to patch up problems that could have been solved the first time if they’d just taken time to develop it properly. They’ll hire new writers, editors and directors to seal up the cracks.

Sadly, it rarely helps the final product. Since they didn’t, what’s usually left is an uneasy mix of tones and plots that never quite gel together or connect with an audience.

Here are some of the most obvious examples where the stitches are still showing.

11. Blade Runner

Blade Runner is Ridley Scott’s dark futuristic masterpiece. But it had a famously troubled journey to get there which can be seen with the original theatrical cut. After investors found the film too dark and confusing this version was saddled with a voice-over from Harrison Ford where he explains everything to the audience.

Ford sounds so bored performing it that he might actually be in physical pain, while the VO has the negative effect of taking the movies subtext and turning it into actual spoken text.

The other infamous addition was the happy ending. Pieced together using outtakes from opening of The Shining, the reshot conclusion sees Deckard and Rachel drive off together into a sunny future. Deckard reveals that Rachel has no termination date so they’re set to live happily ever after. The End.

The tone of this scene is in complete contrast to the movie preceding it and it was – alongside the bad voice-over – completely removed from all subsequent re-edits.

10. Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers

By the time the sixth Halloween movie came out the series had run out of steam in a big way. To reenergise it they introduced an origin story for Michael Myers stab happy ways with a subplot about mystic cults and rune-stones. The producers weren’t happy with it during test screenings and decided it needed to move faster and be a lot gorier.

They also made the classy decision to remove most of the scenes with series star Donald Pleasance – who died shortly after filming – because they were too boring. And so they shot a whole new finale, redid scenes with Pleasance using a stand-in and added excessive gore like an exploding head. This results in massive continuity issues and characters that seem to disappear without explanation.

With no Pleasance to rework the ending, Halloween 6 now ends abruptly with the sound of his character screaming, which implies that Myers has killed him, and then adding In Memory of Donald Pleasance over the credits.

The movie still sucked with the added footage but it at least gave Paul Rudd his first lead role, and he has a scene where he beats Myers to death with a pipe. So the movie isn’t a total loss.

9. The Invasion

This near forgotten remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers starred Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and it underwent a severe facelift during post production. The original director intended it to be a slow paced psychological thriller; one that would play on the audiences creeping dread. And initially the studio was completely onboard with that direction. Until they saw his cut and decided it was just too damn slow.

The producer brought in the Warchowski Siblings to rework the movie, especially the ending and a new director was hired to sex up the action including a huge car chase towards the climax. Some glimpses of the original ending can be found in the trailer.

They also gave the movie a happy ending that seems completely implausible, although it does argue that maybe humanity was better off with the invaders after all. The behind the scenes issues are clearly evident in the final cut.

It’s a Frankenstein mash-up of slow thriller and noisy zombie movie; where quiet horror suddenly gives way to a jarring jump scares. There’s clearly a better version of it somewhere and what they added is distracting instead of exciting.

8. Jaws: The Revenge

The sheer terror on the faces of Universal executives as they sat down to watch Jaws: The Revenge can only be imagined. Not the terror that comes with watching a great horror movie; it’s the terror of realising they’d spent millions to make such a turkey. No amount of reshoots would have salvaged it, but they did decide to add a new ending to make it a little happier.

The original climax saw the mother of the family being hunted by the psychic, vengeful shark (long story) impaling it with a broken bowsprit. It trashed around in pain and destroyed the boat before finally dying. The effects looked abysmal and test audiences were sad the friendly Jamaican scientist was eaten, so the new ending had the shark explode for no apparent reason when hes impaled and the scientist somehow survives being beaten in half.

The new footage jars so badly that it is immediately apparent something is wrong. The crude model used for the exploding shark (seen above) is a total embarrassment and archive footage of the sharks death from the original movie is spliced in to complete the effect. They also failed to mask that it was shot in a tank; the ocean can be seen washing over the sky in the background.

7. I Am Legend

Will Smith led this adaptation of the famous vampire story, which replaced the vampires with horrible CGI mutants and changed the meaning of the books title completely. Warner Bros. clearly had confidence in it at first, but only a couple of months before the release date they ordered the a new ending.

In the movie Smith’s former doctor kidnaps mutants to experiment on so he can find a cure for the disease. Throughout the movie there are hints the mutants are more intelligent than they appear (such as laying traps) and in the original ending they storm his house with a personal purpose.

It turns out they don’t want to kill him; they just want a kidnapped member of their group back. In that moment Smith realises that he appeared like a monster to them. Warners apparently didn’t like that so the new ending has Smith blow himself up to save some people.

This conclusion feels strange and abrupt, and it ignores the hints that the mutants were smarter than Smith gave them credit for. Neither one of the endings is particularly great, but at least the original makes sense within the context of the story.

6. Superman II

The original Superman movies were the first ones to truly capture the feel of a comic book on film. All was not well during the ambitious shoot however. The first two Christopher Reeve movies were shot back-to-back and director Richard Donner was constantly at odds with the producers. They ultimately decided to finish the shoot before all of Superman II was completed so they could focus on making the first movie a hit.

However, after Superman was that huge hit, the producers decided to fire Donner from the second one. Most of the footage that had already been shot was scrapped and reshot by the new director, who brought a lighter comedy touch to it.

This results in a tug of war between the tone set by the first movie and the wackiness bolted onto the second. This is most obvious in the final showdown in Metropolis, which has several dumb sight gags like a mans wig being blown off. In fact, most of the Donner footage that was used were the elements involving Gene Hackman, as he refused to return out of loyalty to Donner.

A directors cut of Superman II was released years later that restored most of Donners footage back into it. Most fans tend to agree his was the superior version.

5. Payback

A movie made back in the heady days when Mel Gibson was still a megastar Payback starred the former Mad Max as a ruthless criminal trying to get back his stolen money. He’s not a nice guy but in the original version he was ruthless to the point of being completely unlikable. The studio (Warner Bros. yet again) panicked and decided the movie needed work to make sure people liked the character.

The original director was replaced and a brand new third act was written. It emphasised the love story, gave it a more explosive ending and generally played down the darkness of the story. A funny voice over was also added to make Mel seem like a comical prankster.

When he steals money from a beggar the voice-over lets the audience know the beggar was pretending to crippled. In the original version he was just some poor beggar. The meanness of the original version still sneaks through but the movies attempts to soften the edges are pretty blatant.

A directors cut released years later was better received critically.

4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Fox

X-Men Origins: Wolverine had a famously messy production where the director Gavin Hood and the head of Fox constantly argued about every facet of the movie. Things got so bad at one point that Hood turned up to a set to find it painted a different colour to the one hed approved, which was retouched because his choice was apparently too depressing.

To add to Hood’s woes there are reports that Superman director Richard Donner ghostdirected chunks of it. In the months leading up to release Origins had extensive reshoots which were apparently centred around Deadpool. But from the final film it’s clear a lot more was changed, as the story is a patchwork of scenes badly stitched together. It wants to be a comic book movie, a revenge thriller, a partial reboot, a wacky comedy and a romantic drama all at once. It’s a movie that features innocent villagers being slaughtered and then a scene of Wolverine accidentally slashing up a bathroom with his terrible CGI claws that comes right out of a sitcom.

What started out a straight forward origin story for Wolverine was badly compromised during shooting and the final product bears those scars. Someone pass the memory bullets.

3. World War Z

Rumour has it World War Z was a lot harder to make than it was to watch. It would take too long to examine all the behind the scenes stories but the thrust of it is that Brad Pitt hired a director who was ill-equipped for making a large scale blockbuster, and it cost everyone a lot of time and money. Things got so bad that Pitt brought in writer Damon Lindelof as a fresh pair of eyes to examine the footage and see how they could fix the movie.

His expensive suggestion was to shoot a brand new third act; one that replaced an expensive battle that took place in Russia. Lindelof felt that Pitt’s character had turned into too much of an action hero and that the final ending was too dark. Surprisingly the studio agreed and scrapped the whole sequence.

This is evident in the movie as it suddenly takes a huge drop in scale. Up to that point each set-piece had been bigger than the last. Then suddenly the rest of the story takes place in a medical centre in the exotic land of Cardiff. Ironically this down scaling probably worked out better, as it allowed the movie to slow down and build tension. And there wasn’t a CGI zombie in sight.

Still obvious though. Despite the troubled production the movie opened to strong box office so the effort was worth it.

2. Fantastic Four

The latest Fantastic Four movie seems destined to go down in movie history as one of the classic troubled productions. In the modern era when there are problems on a movie set that information is going to get leaked eventually. So there was no hiding the many clashes director Josh Trank had with his cast, crew, 20th Century Fox or even his landlord, and the final version of the film shown in cinemas is one he doesn’t seem happy about. Neither was anyone else.

People watching the released version can instinctively feel that something is off. The pacing feels strange with a slow first hour suddenly followed by a rushed, CGI heavy finale that feels like a completely different movie. Lots of big scenes that were widely seen in the trailer  such as The Thing dropping from an plane onto a military base  were missing in the final cut. But the easiest way to tell if a scene is reshot is to look at Kate Mara’s hair; if it’s a hideous wig than thats a clear sign it was part of the hasty reshoot.

The pick-ups didn’t help the bad buzz surrounding Fantastic Four and it eventually tanked at the box office. Trank tweeted before it came out that he had a version that was much better before it was taken away. Based on the evidence available this seems unlikely.

1. Exorcist: The Beginning

A particularly extreme example this one. Exorcist: The Beginning was originally directed by Paul Schradar, who wrote the screenplays for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. He wanted to make a quiet and slow moving psychological thriller that didn’t rely on gore or jump scares. The director of The Invasion will know what happened next.

The studio freaked out when they saw a workprint of the movie, predictably complaining that it was too slow and lacked any gore or jumps. After considering reshooting scenes to add some they made the costly decision to scrap the whole movie and start again. Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin was brought on and delivered the gory jump fest they wanted.

When the studio saw this version they were probably tempted to scrap it too. The new version kept little pieces of Schradar’s movie and his choice of leading man, Stellan Skarsgard. It received terrible reviews and didn’t do great business.

Ironically the studio ended up finishing and releasing Schradar’s version on DVD in an attempt to recoup some of the money they’d lost over the movie. This version wasn’t reviewed much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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