Films always take time to make, but on average a general studio major release takes about a year to go from the first day of filming to the U.S. theatrical release – assuming no major problems crop up during or after production. The exceptions are horror and low-budget films which usually can be done in a slightly shorter time, or big FX action spectacles which usually take a little longer.
However, 2007 has seen quite a few films that were shot back in 2005 finally gracing our screens with little explanation. Some like “D.O.A.: Dead or Alive”, “Fierce People”, “The Last Legion” and “Virgin Territory” have been expected due to international deals and distribution difficulties.
Others, “Ghost Rider” for example, weren’t so well explained. Shot early 2005 and test screened late that year, it took well over an additional year to finally get a release with the excuse of rendering CG fire taking up the additional time.
The most high profile one of late though has been “The Invasion”, a $50 million modern remake of the classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” paranoia sci-fi thriller story. The Nicole Kidman & Daniel Craig led project began shooting back in September 2005 and filmed around the East Coast all throughout the end of that year. To give you an idea of timing, Craig was announced as James Bond during the shoot and filmed “Casino Royale” immediately afterwards.
Originally the film had been planned for a late Summer 2006 release – quite fast considering. It then got pushed back to Fall, not unexpected. Then to early 2007, then to late 2007, and now it sits on an August 17th 2007 date. Many thought it was simply sitting on a shelf and the studio was just waiting to find a slot for it.
That changed earlier this year when actress Nicole Kidman made headlines due to a minor car crash filming scenes for the film – a film that wrapped shooting a year ago. What was going on, reshoots? pick-up filming? Everyone involved was surprisingly coy about the affair.
Now in an article in The Los Angeles Times, details of what went on have been uncovered. It seems that acclaimed German director Oliver Hirschbiegel (“Downfall”) turned in a cut of the film at the end of 2005 that the studio was very unhappy with – especially its lack of action.
More surprising is that as a result, “The Matrix” creators Andy and Larry Wachowski were brought in to do rewrites and then hired James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”) to do nearly $10 million in re-shoots. A rep for Hirschbiegel claimed the lack of action was due to budget constraints he was under, whilst Warners top man Alan Horn said Hirschbiegel simply wasn’t available for the reshoots so McTeigue was brought in.
The film remains on track for its August release but this begs the question – will the Hirschbiegel cut ever see the light of day? Several years ago another famous Warner Bros. genre movie, “Exorcist: The Beginning”, underwent extensive reshoots with a different director after the studio was disappointed with a lack of action. Granted this is not anywhere near as extensive a change, but it would be interesting to see the two different takes on the classic story nonetheless.