Warner Bros.'  Mission to build a better 'Aquaman' sequel: 3 new shots, two Batmans and non-stop test screenings

Warner Bros.’ Mission to build a better ‘Aquaman’ sequel: 3 new shots, two Batmans and non-stop test screenings

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Aquaman and the lost kingdom is in uncharted waters, with the next few weeks potentially setting its course, for better or for worse.

The sequel to Warner Bros.’ The 2018 DC film is coming off a series of shoots that took place in New Zealand in mid-June and involved stars including Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson, according to multiple sources.

This is the third round of reshoots for the film, directed by James Wan. That’s almost an unprecedented number, even for a film of this size.

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Lost kingdom has faced several headwinds as it swims toward a Dec. 20 release date. He’s been delayed several times (originally due to bow in December 2022) and, like the DC movie brother, The flashits making spanned three regimes at Warners.

The film was greenlit under the Warner regime headed by former cinema chief Toby Emmerich and his lieutenant, DC Films head Walter Hamada, as a sequel to Aquamanwhich proved to be a surprise hit and stands as the highest-grossing DC film of all time at $1.148 billion.

Principal photography wrapped in January 2022, but by summer Emmerich was out (Hamada soon followed), both victims of the merger that created Warner Bros. Discovery.

The film was in the middle of post-production that summer and starting test screenings. Although a timeline is not clear, from summer 2022 to early 2023, The lost kingdom it went through two rounds of filming and held several uninspiring test screenings.

After a round of test screenings, new Warners film bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy were brought in, as they were in the running on DC until Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav couldn’t find a DC boss permanent to replace Hamada. Sources say Abdy took a strong creative stance in the fall and was involved in editing a cut. However, when that version was tested, it scored lower than the previous version. This led to another round of filming.

Despite differing views from executives, it’s unclear what the issues were, but one insider said the underlying issue of story clarity has been an ongoing concern.

Also in question: Batman.

Hamada wanted Michael Keaton’s version of the character to be similar to Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the Marvel films – an elder statesman who could appear in various films, including the now shelved Bad girlas well as The lost kingdom. But the shifting of release dates has confused things. At a certain point, The lost kingdom was due to open in March 2023, several months before Keaton’s return in June 2023 The flash. Then, in late July 2022, two months after Abdy and DeLuca took over Warners, Ben Affleck joined a reshoots tour as Bruce Wayne, to fill in for a scene Keaton shot. But then the film was moved again, this time to later Fast, questioning Affleck’s appearance. The latest cut of the film doesn’t feature any version of the Dark Knight, according to sources, as new DC bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran don’t want to promise a cinematic universe that won’t come to fruition or overly tie it to past failures. “It was pretty chaotic,” said a source.

(And some of the chaos may not have been the fault of the studio or the filmmakers. Some of the calendar moves were due to overloaded visual effects houses, a phenomenon that has occurred during the pandemic and has affected both Fast AND Lost kingdomcausing a cascade of release date pushes.)

More test screenings of cuts occurred in February and again in April. At this point, Safran, a producer of the former Aquaman as well as The lost kingdomhe had become co-head of the new DC Studios, along with Gunn.

It’s unclear how Safran’s transition turned the tide of the film, if at all. Insiders say the filmmakers were in landfills due to the seemingly endless post-production process and water-logged test scores. However, the skies may have cleared up with the new footage.

Gunn is said to have evaluated the most recent cut and management has approved five days of filming. Sources say the shoot went so well that Wan and company completed what they needed to in just four years.

And to some, the fact that Warners is willing to continue spending money on improving the film shows that the studio has confidence The lost kingdom. (In February, according to sources, the filmmakers of Blue Beetle, the other remaining DC film that was made during the AT&T era and opens in August, asked for two additional shooting days but the studio refused. Safran had also been a producer of Cockroach before his accession to the executive ranks.)

Lost kingdom it’s already an expensive production. It was greenlit with a $205 million budget and shot during the pandemic, which has been a burdensome expense for tentpole productions. Additionally, every frame of film involves visual effects, another major cost. The shooting only increased the overall budget.

Lost kingdom is the final film in the DC Extended Universe, which launched ten years ago with Zack Snyder Man of Steel. The December release date is approaching as Warner’s DC films are failing on an unmatched level. of October Black Adamof March Shazam! Fury of the Gods (also made by Safran) and last month’s The flash they were money underdogs in their stage runs. Though Gunn and Safran plan to reboot DC movies with Superman: Legacythat title doesn’t come out until July 2025. No one wants another miss, and there are questions about how much bruising DC’s film brand can handle.

The filmmakers and the studio know the value that intelligent post-production can bring. The first Aquaman it was also dealing with turbulent waves and is said to have only found its footing in post, when a new ending was burnished and the film tightened to a two-hour, twenty-three-minute hinge.

As for Wan, he was optimistic when he spoke to DAY in April while continuing work on the film: “This movie has something to talk about (climate change), but it’s still a fun action-fantasy movie.”