An action movie focusing on a ragtag group of thieves and mercenaries venturing into Las Vegas to rob $200 million from a casino vault in the midst of the zombie apocalypse was never going to come cheap, but the budget for Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead rose significantly when actor and comedian Chris D’Elia was dropped from the film in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations.
Instead of heavily re-editing the movie to try and minimize his character’s screen time, Snyder and Netflix instead agreed to make the bold and expensive decision to digitally erase D’Elia from Army of the Dead entirely and replace him with Tig Notaro. To accomplish the tricky technical feat, Notaro filmed all of her scenes alone against a green screen eight months after shooting had initially wrapped, before being composited into the background of many shots and making sure all of her dialogue and interactions with the ensemble matched the previously shot footage.
In a new interview, Snyder admitted that it cost more than a few million dollars to pull it off, with his wife and producing partner Deborah going one step further by revealing that the extensive reshoots, post-production and visual effects work ran up a bill comparable to the entire production budget of prequel Army of Thieves.
“It was like the cost of our little German movie. I will say, Netflix did the right thing. They put their money where their mouth is.”
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In the wrong hands, it could have been a jarring sight to see an actor awkwardly stitched into a pre-existing film starring a bunch of people they hadn’t even met before never mind worked with, but the 300 and Watchmen director had total confidence in his team.
“It just so happens that the group makes giant visual effects movies, you know what I mean?. It worked out that we were like, ‘Oh, yeah, I know how to do this’.”
Not only is it an impressive achievement, but Notaro has also been singled out as one of Army of the Dead‘s highlights, so it all worked out pretty well in the end.