Warner Bros., Skydance's 'Geostorm' Undergoes Reshoots, Brings on Jerry Bruckheimer (Exclusive)
Skydance Media, David Ellison's company, is facing some bad weather.
Geostorm, the company’s big-budget Gerard Butler environmental disaster movie, is undergoing significant reshoots as producers try to rejig the movie that was to have showcased the directorial debut of producer and screenwriter Dean Devlin.
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Danny Cannon, who directed the 1995 Sylvester Stallone action movie Judge Dredd and has since become a reliable television helmer on such shows such as Gotham, is directing the reshoots, which are being overseen by newly installed producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
The reshoots are not just light spruce-ups, either. Up to to $15 million is being spent, according to sources, and some notable characters are even being jettisoned from the script.
Studio insiders downplay the reshoots, terming them "pick-ups," and say the high cost is due to reassembling the international cast close to two years after the movie had wrapped principal photography. Also on the docket was significant visual effects work and music work.
Geostorm marks the feature directorial debut of Devlin, who made his name writing and producing Roland Emmerich’s disaster tentpoles such as Stargate and Independence Day. In the pic, Butler plays a man who heads into space to prevent climate-controlling satellites from creating a man-made storm of epic proportions. At the same time, he and his estranged brother learn of a plot to assassinate the president.
Geostorm is not only a big bet for Devlin as his directorial debut, but for Skydance, which is using the project, like it did with 2015's Terminator Genisys, to transform the company from a film financier to a full-fledged creative production company. Ellison’s Skydance Productions independently produced and financed the film with Devlin's Electric Entertainment before it was picked up by Warner Bros., even though the company has a first-look deal with Paramount and has co-financed many of Paramount's key franchises, such Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation and Star Trek Into Darkness. According to sources, Greg Silverman, who announced Dec. 14 that he is leaving his studio post as Warners president of worldwide production, initiated the relationship with Skydance.
Geostorm began shooting in October 2014 in Louisiana and was initially slated for release on Oct. 21, 2016. But when test screenings in December 2015 resulted in below average or “not bad but room for improvement” (as one insider put it) feedback, it was decided that the movie needed some work. In early 2016, Bruckheimer, the producer behind such mega-projects as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, was brought in to consult as Skydance pondered whether to try to make changes in post or to prep for reshoots. In the meantime, the release date moved to January 2017 and then to Oct. 20, 2017, its current slot.
Multiple sources say the reshoots took place from Dec. 3-14 in Louisiana. The changes are significant. New characters, including a female scientist, have been added, while a character played by Vikings star Katheryn Winnick was recast. Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) wrote the new pages for the reshoots.
Insiders say that Devlin remains on board as the helmer of the movie but was unavailable to film the reshoots. The companies received a DGA dispensation to allow another director to helm the new scenes, according to the sources.
In today’s landscape of big-budget productions, reshoots and additional photography are not an indicator that a film won’t be successful. In fact, additional photography is now routinely added into the schedule and budget.
And even the most troubled of projects can sometimes find success in the end. For example, 2013’s World War Z, which Skydance was in involved with, suffered multiple setbacks and brought on Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard to rewrite the third act, but ultimately was a commercial success, grossing over $540 million.
Likewise, for the Star Wars spinoff Rogue One, which is hitting theaters this weekend, Lucasfilm and Disney bought on Tony Gilroy to write and help oversee extensive reshoots for a top-to-bottom makeover of the pic. The Felicity Jones-starrer has received strong reviews and is expected to have the second-biggest December domestic box-office opening ever (behind 2015’s The Force Awakens).
Geostorm will be one of two original Skydance productions for 2017. The company also developed and made the sci-fi thriller Life, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds and is set to be released March 24 by Sony.
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