For months, Suicide Squad had been angled as the cool new kid on the block – the much-needed shot in the arm for Warner’s budding cinematic universe that would render the Batman V Superman disappointment a by-gone memory.
Much of that plan started to unravel just yesterday when the review embargo lifted, declaring David Ayer’s spinoff to be a tonal mess. That hasn’t curbed fan enthusiasm just yet, with Fandango revealing that advance tickets for Suicide Squad have set a new August record, but it’s evident such a reception wasn’t in the script.
That said, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. may only have themselves to blame.
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Lumping pressure on Task Force X from the get-go, THR claims that Warner staked out the August 5 release date for Suicide Squad long before the studio had settled on a script, leaving David Ayer only six weeks to crank out a feasible screenplay that juggled such an eclectic roster of characters. Compounding that sense of anxiety, WB then ordered reshoots earlier this year to inject more fun into the movie, with Ayer’s version considered to be a more “sombre” affair.
It was here that Suicide Squad started to split onto two tracks as Warner Bros. scrambled to pump out a final, coherent product. Employing multiple video editors, we understand that the Powers That Be produced their own alternative cut of Suicide Squad – one that is seemingly much more in line with the rip-roaring trailers – while Ayer stayed close to his own vision.
Closer to release, a compromise was struck, as both David Ayer and Warner Bros. settled on some amalgamation of the two, resulting in the feature critics have called a choppy, tonally inconsistent dud.
Here’s an extract pulled from THR’s findings:
“If there are multiple opinions that aren’t in sync, you go down multiple tracks — two tracks at least,” says an insider. “That was the case here for a period of time, always trying to get to a place where you have consensus.” Those associated with the film insist Ayer agreed to and participated in the process. Once feedback on the two versions was analyzed, it became clear it was possible to get to “a very common-ground place.” (The studio-favored version with more characters introduced early in the film and jazzed-up graphics won.) Getting to that place of consensus, however, required millions of dollars worth of additional photography.
Will Warner Bros. resort to damage control once Suicide Squad hits theaters? It’s too soon to tell. Box office figures will naturally become the most important metric for the studio, but this report of production woes coupled with scathing reviews – Suicide Squad also cost around $175 million, remember – really calls those spinoff ideas and potential sequel into question.