Even for a DC film in the midst of the biggest era of turmoil in the company’s history, we haven’t seen a movie go through this many rounds of reshoots. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is in uncharted territory, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The sequel to 2018’s massive blockbuster hit Aquaman had a recent bout of reshoots in mid-June with stars Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson. Most films go back for reshoots. It’s a normal process. Scheduling conflicts, coverage, and other reasons don’t necessarily mean that the first round of shoots was bad. But it’s a stranger occurrence when a film goes back for second and third rounds, even for a big-budget blockbuster.
The film is set for a December 20th, 2023 release date and has already been postponed more than once. The production process for the film has gone through three leadership regimes at Warner Bros. Discovery. Toby Emmerich and Walter Hamada greenlighted it, went through Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, and has finally ended up with David Zaslav and the DC Films bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran. According to THR it went in for reshoots in Summer 2022 after some uninspiring test screenings.
One issue brought up by test audiences was story clarity and overall understanding of the narrative. That could be an easy fix, but there’s another issue: Batman.
The various leaders of DC Films have had different visions of the future. Walter Hamada wanted Michael Keaton‘s Batman to be the “Nick Fury” for the DC Universe. The reshoots and delays to DC films like The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom made it so that The Flash was actually coming out after this film. That necessitated Ben Affleck being brought in for reshoots as Bruce Wayne, to replace Keaton’s footage.
That’s all well and good, except now The Flash actually released before Aquaman 2. That makes Affleck’s appearance unnecessary, and according to their sources, the new film has neither Batman actor in it. James Gunn and Peter Safran don’t want to promise a movie universe that will not come to fruition nor tie it down excessively to past failures.
For fans of Aquaman, there’s a silver lining to all of this. This latest round of reshoots is said to be incredibly positive. The fact that WB is still putting money into production is also a good thing. It shows that they still have faith in the film. The film started at a $205 million budget and has only gone up through pandemic related costs and reshoots.
You’d think that DC and Warner Bros. releasing these last couple of “lame-duck” movies from the previous regime wouldn’t create such big issues, but they are. The Flash absolutely bombed at the box office creating one of the biggest money pits a studio has ever seen. Blue Beetle has barely seen any marketing up until recently, and now Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is going through these rough patches.
The DC Universe has a new beginning starting with 2025’s Superman: Legacy from James Gunn.
We’ll have to see how all these movies turn out.
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