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10 Sci-Fi Movies Ruined By Reshoots

Justice League (2017) Superman / Clark Kent (Henry Cavill)

Here are the films that were ruined, thanks to massive reshoots. Moviemaking can be a crazy process. Often, after the movie is complete, the studio and test audiences decide the movie needs to have new footage added. This is common in the industry, and studios usually set aside a part of the budget for filming new scenes or replacing existing ones.

A good example is Back to the Future which started filming with Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly and then was reshot with Michael J. Fox in the lead.

Sometimes it goes well and, like Back to the Future, become a massive success. But other times it goes horribly. The movie goes from good or OK to awful.

Here are ten movies that were ruined thanks to reshoots.

1. Justice League (2017) 

Justice League (2017)

Budget: $300 million
Box office: $657.9 million

Some people think Zack Snyder is the greatest filmmaker alive while others think he’s the worst. Most fall somewhere in the middle. The production of the Justice League film had as much behind-the-scenes drama as any superhero film.

The drama started with the box office failure of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice  (2016) which left the studio as nervous of the upcoming team-up movie. Filming began.

DC Entertainment head Diane Nelson, and president and chief creative officer at Warners' DC division Jeff Johns "clashed loudly." That's a nice way of saying they hated each other. Then, the studio hated Snyder and co-writer Geoff Johns' script rewrites.

The rough-cut of the movie seemed to confirm the studio's worst fears. We may never know what Snyder's version of the movie looks like but we have an idea. Several sources describe Snyder's Justice League as "unwatchable". So they called an emergency meeting of writers to try and fix it.

Joss Whedon, Allan Heinberg, Seth Grahame-Smith, and Andrea Berloff all had a summit to brainstorm ways to change the script. The constant rewrites to the script led to dozens of reshoots. Finally, Snyder left the production after the tragic death of his daughter. Whedon was hired to reshoot some scenes and rewrite the script. Some call it treasonous but it's just business.

This led to a record-setting number of reshoots in London and Los Angeles. Usually, the studio shoots about 15-20 days of extra footage. Whedon shot for almost two months. By comparison, the Oscar-winning film Birdman was shot in only 23 days. Less is more.

Warner Bros., already in the hole for Batman v Superman dumped an additional $25 million into filming. Normally studios pay between $6–10 million in additional filming costs. Producer Charles Roven told The Washington Times that between 15-20 percent of the film was reshot or changed by Joss Whedon.

This reportedly swelled the budget to a whopping $300 million. The movie now stands as the fourth most expensive movie of all-time. Stakes were high. But considering Avengers: Age of Ultron cost about that much it seemed like a safe bet. Looked like it anyway. How could a movie with Batman, Superman AND Wonder Woman fail? But it did.

The extensive reshoots led to several problems. Obviously, the story suffered. But then there’s Cavill's mustache. Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, grew a thick mustache for his role in Mission Impossible and the Warner Bros couldn't get permission to shave it off. This left him with a horrid CGI upper lip.

The savage reviews and bad buzz around the reshoots left the movie DOA. It limped to $657.9 million. That would have been great but the huge production and marketing cost the studio around $600 million. Without the cost and bad publicity of the reshoots, the movie could have been saved. Plus, the Zack Snyder fans who could have rallied around the film were left feeling betrayed by the studio for changing the film.

Maybe Superman could fly around the Earth, turn back time and stop them from the reshoots. The world will never know.

2. Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad (2016)

Budget: $175 million
Box office: $746.8 million

Coincidentally we have another DC movie plagued by reshoots. Suicide Squad is a superhero movie based on a comic book series. It follows a group of supervillains brought together to become heroes. David Ayer was hired to write and direct the film and promised to follow the dark tone of Man of Steel.

Suicide Squad followed on the heels of the box office disaster Batman v Superman and test audiences hated the next movie in the DC universe. The studio was already jittery and decided to make changes in the tone.

They cut two versions of the film to decide. One was cut by Ayer and the other was cut with help from the company that cut the successful first trailer named Trailer Park. The second “more fun” trailer was more popular with test audiences so they decided to change the tone of the film.

To do that they reportedly spent millions of dollars to reshoot and add scenes to get a "lighter" tone for the film. "If there are multiple opinions that aren't in sync, you go down multiple tracks — two tracks at least," says an insider. "That was the case here for a period of time, always trying to get to a place where you have consensus."

The film was already facing an uphill with audiences after the box office flop of Batman v Superman. But when you add the additional cost of reshoots it made the stakes much higher. A source told The Hollywood Reporter "The movie's got to do $750 million, $800 million to break even. If they get anywhere close to that, they'll consider it a win."

It made less than $750 million. If it hadn't been for the reshoots they could have at least made their money back.

3. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Budget: $275 million
Box office: $392.9 million
When Disney bought the Star Wars franchise they promised a new trilogy and several smaller movies based on popular characters. One of those is the loveable "scruffy nerf-herder" Han Solo. Disney hired Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to direct but that changed after production.

Disney was reportedly unhappy with the improvisational style and slow pace of the directors. They felt most of the footage was unusable and went with the costly decision to fire Lord and Miller and have Ron Howard reshoot most of the film. Some reports say as much as 80% of the movie was filmed again.

Not only did it cost the studio time they also had to have many actors come back to reshoot their scenes. One actor had a scheduling conflict so they recast Dryden Vos with Paul Bettany.

Let’s not forget the marketing cost. I’m not talking about the dollars and cents. I’m talking about the actual marketing. The reshoots and drama pushed a huge amount of negative publicity at the movie and the marketing team wasn’t able to counteract it.

The first trailer for Rogue One opens a long time before the movie. But the first trailer for Solo came out only two months before the opening. Probably because they didn’t have the finished footage thanks to last-minute reshoots.

All these cost the studio millions. Some reports said it cost "twice the budget." But, since the last three Star Wars films made well over $500 million, it seemed like a safe bet. They were wrong. The opening weekend landed with a thud and the movie never recovered thanks to mediocre reviews. When the run was all over the movie bombed and barely coasted to $400 million.

If they hadn't blown up the budget with reshoots they could have broken even.


4. I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend (2007) Robert Neville (Will Smith)

Budget: $150 million
Box office: $585.3 million
I Am Legend tells the story of Aaron Neville, played by Will Smith, as the lone survivor of a world decimated by a pandemic. The only people left are mutated nocturnal creatures who have a zombie-like thirst for blood. He lives in New York and is trying to find a cure.

The movie was already a risky enterprise. Even with Smith's star power, the film is based on an obscure book and several well-known movies. Plus the vampire genre had been sucked dry. So much so that the studio went to great lengths to distance the movie from the vampire genre. That despite the fact that the book explicitly implies vampires with an aversion to sunlight and garlic.

After test audiences saw the film they hated the ending. The book has a very downbeat ending for the hero but opens the possibility of a future for the vampires. I Am Legend had a similar ending and the studio decided to bring the cast back to reshoot the ending. The original ending changed the perspective of the villains of the movie and makes Neville the true villain.

The new, happier ending completely ruined many of the implicit themes in the film and watered down many key moments in the movie. In the attack on Neville’s house, it was shown that the attack wasn’t about Neville at all. The creatures were going in to rescue the woman he had kidnapped to do testing on. This matches a scene where one of the creatures lunges out into the daylight after her when she was taken.

With the new ending and explanation, those scenes just become confusing. It also eliminates Neville’s realization that the creatures are capable of affection and not mindless brutes. It turns the movie from a thoughtful character exploration into a mindless action movie and ruins a potentially great film.


5. The Invasion (2007)

The Invasion (2007) - Nicole Kidman

Budget: $65–80 million
Box office: $45 million

The classic 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a masterpiece of film-making and a wonderful analogy of the paranoia of the McCarthy era. The movie has been remade a number of times and Warner Bros. decided it was time to remake it again. The story was written and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. 

It follows a space shuttle that accidentally drops fungus-like alien lifeforms over the Earth. A psychiatrist, played by Nicole Kidman, notices that people are acting strange and believes they're being replaced with duplicates.

As often happens the test audiences didn’t like the film. But neither did the studio. Producer Joel Silver said, "We saw the movie. It didn't work the way we wanted."

So the studio decided to tweak the script and find another director. They decided to bring in the Wachowskis to rework the script. While the movie finished filming in late 2005 the movie went back to the camera in early 2007. The studio says the changes were minor but reportedly the studio wanted more action. Slashfilm reported the production reshot 70% of the movie. A car chase was shoved in the final 20 minutes and a happier ending was added with a cure for the infected. 

Reportedly the movie's budget had already ballooned to $80 million but the reshoots added a whopping $10 million. Thanks to the news of the reshoots, lack of originality and the $90 million price tag the movie flopped hard.


6. Conquest of the Planet Of The Apes (1972)


Budget: $1.7 million
Box office: $9.7 million

Conquest is the third prequel to the hit film Planet of the Apes. The first movie followed a group of astronauts who arrive on a planet inhabited anthropomorphic apes. This movie is supposed to show how the apes took over the world. Test audiences hated the dark and violent finale. 20th Century Fox recut Conquest to secure a more box office friendly PG rating.

The 30-minute long uprising cut out all the blood-spattered scenes. This includes a shot where the evil governor shoots an ape in the face and is brutally killed by the apes. The studio assumed the movie would be the last in the series and wanted a happy ending.

But the movie did well and a fourth prequel was made called Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). This makes the movie changes pointless and confusing.

7. Fantastic Four (2015)

Fantastic Four (2015) (2015) - Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Ben Grimm / The Thing (Jamie Bell), Sue Storm (Kate Mara)

Budget: $120–155 million
Box office: $168 million

The Fox movie based on the iconic superhero team had a start rockier than Ben Grimm. The studio decided to reboot their superhero film about the superteam of Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic, Ben Grimm / The Thing, Human Torch / Johhny Storm, and the Sue Storm / Invisible Woman. Director Josh Trank was hired based on his dark found footage film Chronicle. After working on a script and going through pre-production they were ready to start filming. But, days before shooting, the studio told Trank he had to cut three major action scenes. It included a scene where the rock-like Thing literally drops into a war zone.

Things got worse from there with the last minute scramble to devise a new third act for the movie. When the script was finally complete they went to reshoot scenes. But not all the cast was available so they had to have doubles stand in for some of the scenes. Some actors came back and had to film against a green screen because they didn’t have sets available. Then there’s the ridiculous wig Kate Mara has to wear for the reshoots. Overall it left the film confusing, disjointed and hopelessly overbudget.

Trank insisted on Twitter his movie was better, but we'll never know because the studio sure doesn't want to pay for a "Director's Cut".

"I think that there were many decisions we made along the way that led to a movie that people didn’t like and a movie that I would do differently next time," producer Simon Kinberg said on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. "I think the biggest takeaway for me, and there were many, is that the tone of the movie, while really interesting and ambitious, ran counter to the DNA of the source material."

That's a nice way to say they "screwed the pooch".


8. Monster Trucks (2016)

Image of Lucas Till as Tripp in Monster Trucks movie
Monster Trucks (2017) Tripp (Lucas Till)

This movie about a teenager who befriends and subterranean monster to drive his truck had a rocky start. The concept of making a monster truck movie about literal monsters in trucks was inspired by a three-year-old boy and got worse from there.

The movie was originally pitched in 2013 after Adam Goodman watched his son play with his truck toys. It became a priority project for Paramount animation and the studio dreamed of “a Transformers-like franchise.” Most of the movie was filmed by 2014 but it got delayed. The movie got a bunch of reshoots before it’s first test screening in 2016. 

It was a disaster. How can you make a children’s movie that drives kids out of the theater? The children were terrified by the monster which was described as a "cross between Judge Doom, a mentally-handicapped E.T., and a squid".

Early "Monster Trucks" Creech concept art by Luca Nemolato

Children were literally scared to tears. That's a bad sign when you're making a kid's film. More than half the test audience left by the time the movie was over. 

That led to almost a year of panicked reshoots to try and save the film. The budget ballooned to $125 million. The movie's marketing didn’t help with the first trailer highlighting a belching squid monster.

The movie had a disastrous opening weekend and got worse from there. In the end, it made a paltry $64 million. Viacom projected a loss on the movie before it even opened and Deadline projected the film lost $123.1M. It’s hard to say how the movie would have done without the reshoots but the increased cost guaranteed the movie would lose money.

9. John Carter (2012)

Image of Taylor Kitsch as John Carter in John Carter movie
John Carter (2012) John Carter (Taylor Kitsch)

Budget: $263.7 - $306.6 million
Box office: $284.1 million

John Carter follows a civil war soldier who is transported to the alien planet of Mars called "Barsoom". It's based on a popular series of pulp novels "John Carter of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Directed by Andrew Stanton John Carter had a troubled production starting with the suits deciding that no one wants to watch a movie with the name "Mars" in the title. It sounds silly but when you look at box office bombs like Mars Attacks, Mars Needs Moms and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians they may have a point. Although it's more likely that the films just suck. Anyway, they dropped the "of Mars" and just left the "John Carter". But it only got worse.

Most of the film was shot in Longcross Studios, London. But the cast and crew got called back to Utah for costly reshoots. The reason? The director didn’t know how to shoot a film once.

Andrew Stanton is known for directing Pixar animated films like WALL·E (2008), A Bugs Life (1998), and Finding Nemo (2003). He wasn’t used to filming in live-action. Especially a complex and complicated production like “John Carter”. He admitted he shot most of the film twice. This is unheard of in filmmaking.

 “The thing I had to explain to Disney was, ‘You’re asking a guy who’s only known how to do it this way to suddenly do it with one reshoot,’ ” he told The Los Angeles Times. “I said, ‘I’m not gonna get it right the first time. I’ll tell you that right now.’ ”

The reshoots were costly and pushed the already expensive production costs even higher. The final production budget was over $306 million. If it had paid off it would have been fine, but the movie bombed and made a "measly" $284.1 million. That's enough to buy more than 100 copies of "Action Comics" #1 from Nicholas Cage but that's nothing to a movie studio.

Thanks to all of Stanton's reshoots Disney lost a ton of money on the film. They were forced to do a quarterly write-down of between $100 million to $165 million. It goes without saying they never made a sequel.

It's not all bad news though. Thanks to overseas sales along with VHS and DVD sales the studio recouped its losses. Blockbuster Video wins again. Oh what a difference.

10. Jupiter Ascending (2015)


Budget: $176 million
Box office: $184 million

The science-fiction film Jupiter Ascending is about a humble woman who discovers she’s a space princess. It's a touching concept that cost the studio and company a huge $179 million. 

After The Matrix the Wachowskis became a hot property in Hollywood and they began conceiving a number of passion projects. But after the Wachowskis had a series of box office flops the studio - say it with me - got nervous. They became even more nervous when audiences at test screenings gave tepid ratings to the film. Jupiter Ascending had a bunch of reshoots in January 2014 and even more reshoots three months later. 

Then, in April another disastrous test screening dropped. Warner Bros originally scheduled the release for July 18, 2014. But just six weeks before the movie was set to open there was a huge dinging warning sign. The studio pulled it. Jupiter Ascending was moved almost a year to February 6, 2015. The studio said that the VFX were incomplete and needed work. 

In the end, the additional cost of adding new scenes and moving the release date cost the Warner Bros. "well north of $100 million" and it still flopped harder than Oprah Winfrey in a belly flop contest.

There are lots of reasons to do reshoots and they don't always mean disaster. But from CGI mustaches to bad wigs, for these films, it was the worst possible decision.

Which movie do you think was the most damaged by reshoots? Let us know in the comments below!

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