How Testing Changed “Pacific Rim Uprising”

Out doing promotional rounds for “Pacific Rim Uprising,” director Steven S. DeKnight spoke with Collider about the film’s test screenings and how the reactions from that changed the final cut.

The movie is a follow-up to 2013’s Guillermo Del Toro-directed film about giant robots called Jaegers taking on the threat of giant monsters called Kaiju from another dimension. Del Toro did quite a bit of world-building in the first film that many have forgotten about from the Precursors (the creators of the Kaiju) to the various key character deaths.

Knight reveals that because many in the test audience, even if they had seen it, had forgotten the lore and so a montage was created to recount events of the first film:

“When we tested the movie, one of the biggest comments we got was, ‘I don’t know where I am in the world. I liked the first movie, but I saw it five years ago. I don’t really remember it.’ So we talked about just doing a crawl, words on screen. But we thought, ‘Yeah, I think we can do better than that.’ So we came up with an idea of a fun introduction to Jake and his life, so we ended up doing that as additional photography.”

Another scene that was added post-test screenings was a kitchen scene with John Boyega and Scott Eastwood estranged ex-co-pilot characters discussing their history. It is one of the few scenes with the pair not being outright hostile to each other:

“We felt like their characters never really got a chance to explore their relationship and show that. Although they were butting heads, they still cared about each other. They were old friends. But they still needed something there, because without it, it was just two guys bickering with each other.”

Separately he spoke with Cinema Blend and was asked about where he sees the franchise going. He responded:

“I can’t give any details, but yes, I have a very clear idea [for the future]. When we were developing Uprising I was constantly jotting down notes about what I would want to do for the next movie. So I have a very, very rough outline of what that movie would be. And the plan was always to do the third installment, and then at the end of that movie expand the universe to a Star Wars/Star Trek-style [franchise] where it could go in many different directions. Different stories, main canon, side stories, standalones, the whole thing.”

Reviews for the film aren’t good, but it did make $150 million in its first weekend at the box-office. Whether it will make enough to justify more entries… we’ll see.