As Tom Holland‘s new movie Avengers: Endgame prepares for the largest North American release in history, a first cut of his next film, Chaos Walking, was recently deemed “unreleasable” by Lionsgate insiders, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Doug Liman directed the adaptation of Patrick Ness‘ popular YA sci-fi series, which co-stars Daisy Ridley and Mads Mikkelsen. It’s no secret that Chaos Walking has been a troubled production, as cameras started rolling way back in August 2017. It was initially slated to hit theaters on March 1, 2019, but a trailer was never even released, and now the film is unlikely to hit theaters before 2020, as Lionsgate has decided it needs at least three weeks of reshoots.
While Lionsgate insiders told the WSJ that Chaos Walking “turned out so poorly it was deemed unreleasable by executives who watched initial cuts last year,” the studio’s CEO Jon Feltheimer remained confident that the project could be saved. He explained that the reshoots are aimed at improving the film’s commercial prospects, saying “we wouldn’t be shooting more if we didn’t think we could make this movie work.”
Of course, that’s what every studio chief has to say, but more often than not, it’s actually true! Remember how World War Z was supposed to be a train wreck after its entire third act had to be rewritten and reshot? It turned out to be completely respectable movie, both critically and commercially, and Liman himself is no stranger to such unlikely outcomes. He was basically kicked out of the editing room on The Bourne Identity and subsequently fired from the franchise, which as we all know, went on to be a smashing success without him. He still deserves credit for launching that series, despite all the headaches on set. One could also call Liman’s films Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Edge of Tomorrow “troubled” productions, yet every studio should be so lucky to get into such trouble, as both of those films made over $370 million worldwide.
Chaos Walking may indeed a “major challenge” for Lionsgate, and it’s certainly an expensive one at a cost of $100 million, but on the bright side, it has two of Hollywood’s hottest young stars going for it in Holland and Ridley, who lead two of the town’s biggest active franchise between Spider-Man and Star Wars. Part of me wants to think, ‘if they can’t get YA audiences to come out to the theater, no one can,’ but the truth is that they’re going to have their work cut out for them here, given the film’s challenging premise.
See, Chaos Walking is set in a dystopian world where there are no women, and all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise. I have no idea how Liman and his team of six credited writers (including Charlie Kaufman!) plan to visualize this, but I’m certainly intrigued. For now, Liman deserves the benefit of the doubt, given how many times he has been prematurely written-off in the past, but something tells me this particular balancing act may be too tough to pull off. Walk along a tightrope enough times and eventually, you’re going to fall off. Stay tuned to Collider—or Holland’s Instagram feed—for more Chaos Walking coverage, including a new release date that will likely be announced once reshoots are completed.