Recent news that Blumhouse’s Halloween, the highly anticipated sequel to John Carpenter’s seminal classic was going through some reshoots has caused something of a stir online. The re-shoots are supposedly due to a poor test screening of an early cut of the film, leaving many to feel apprehensive about the movie. These feelings may be premature however. This article will take a look at what lead to this decision by the studio, and examine whether it’s cause for concern.
The Test Screening Rumour
This story began a little while ago when Blumhouse supposedly held a test screening for the film. Producer Jason Blum stated he had great confidence in the project after seeing the cut.
He did everything I hoped he would do which is respect the DNA of the franchise and bring something totally new to it and we’re really very, very excited for people to see it.
Audience reactions were apparently less enthusiastic. The screening was hardly disastrous, but the test audience did have some complaints, the ending apparently getting the most flack. Numerous articles about the project appeared online, but many were later taken down at the request of Universal.
However, these reactions may not be entirely true. John Carpenter himself had this to say when questioned about the test screenings on Twitter.
There hasn’t been a first cut. No test screenings yet.
This has understandably caused some confusion. If there hadn’t been a test screening, why has Universal asked that these articles be taken down? And if the audience didn’t see a cut, then why are these re-shoots happening? It’s hard to say, but there are some possibilities. Perhaps those who saw the cut weren’t an audience, but the filmmakers themselves. People who make films often look at their own work and go back to tweak it afterwards, something Carpenter himself is no stranger to.
John Carpenter decided to re-shoot large portions of The Fog after he was unsatisfied with the original cut, all before audiences even saw a single frame. Jason Blum perhaps was referring to the rough cut of the film, the first, thrown together edit filmmakers take a look at to see if there’s anything they still need. Even if Blumhouse did a test screening this early on, that’s actually cause for relief. A film’s ultimate test is in front of an audience. Doing a test screening so soon in the process shows a real care about the audience’s opinion, wanting to gauge the reaction so they’ll have the time to fix any issues the audience may have. Regardless of why, the crew of the latest Halloween went back to the shooting location to give their film a polish.
In recent years, re-shoots have gained something of a poor reputation, not helped by the extensive additions put on the disastrous Suicide Squad and other recent flubs by major studios. However, re-shoots are actually a relatively common occurrence in major studio films. Some in the business would even call them a luxury. The key difference here is Suicide Squad‘s re-shoots were largely a corporate mandate, ordered by studio heads who wanted to emulate the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. This re-shoot is either based on the test screening, or the feelings of the creators themselves.
There are many beloved classics that were re-shot based on audience reactions or the feelings of their creators. The famous scene in Jaws where Matt Hooper finds the severed head in a boat was actually a re-shoot by Steven Spielberg, and it was nothing but beneficial to the overall film. The rousing and exciting ending to Die Hard With a Vengeance was a re-shoot after audiences disliked the original and far bleaker ending. Re-shoots don’t destine a film for failure. Rather, it shows someone has the resources to go back and fix something they want to do better.
They Cost Effort and Money
That comes to another, often overlooked fact about re-shoots. They are expensive. Very, very expensive. They involve moving crew across the country, getting back actors, trying to gain access to locations that are no longer available. Some films actually leave a little money aside in the budget in anticipation of re-shoots following test screenings or the first look at a rough cut. While talking about the making of The Terminator, James Cameron stated that most films are made in post-production. Sometimes looking at a finished film can open your eyes to what you still need. Sometimes its a little. Sometimes a lot.
They also take a lot of effort, and for most filmmakers, especially those at a smaller more creator controlled studio like Blumhouse, the extra effort comes from love for the work. Blumhouse could just as easily have thrown their hands up and put the film out the way it was in spite of how they or their audience felt about it. Instead, they’ve gone the extra mile to improve it. Fixing a film based on complaints or one’s own dissatisfaction gives the film potential to be more successful and last longer in the public eye.
Myers’ Last Ride
This latest film is intended to be the final entry in the Michael Myers Saga. It has even gone so far as to wipe the slate clean of nearly forty years’ worth of mediocre sequels. That move alone requires a lot of ambition. This film also has the most solid talent behind it since the original, David Gordon Greene easily the best director involved since Carpenter. Carpenter himself came back to produce after reading the script, and Curtis came back to star after previously being adamant she wouldn’t do another. Behind the scenes, there’s a lot of confidence in this project.
Creative people often must compromise their vision in order to reach a wider audience, but that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes sacrificing one small part of one’s vision can help the rest of it find a greater success. The re-shoots for Suicide Squad were a soulless corporate mandate. This on the other hand, shows a team of creative people willing to compromise with their audience to help a film. Personally, that leaves me confident we’re in good hands. Come October 19th, we’ll all see if that feeling is in good faith
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