Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are is Being Entirely Reshot?
Over the past few days I've been hearing some rumblings and rumors about Where the Wild Things Are that say the film is in trouble internally at Warner Brothers. Initially I heard that director Spike Jonze wanted to remove his name, but now via CHUD some new information has arrived saying that the execs at Warners are looking at reshooting the entire $75 million film because what Jonze created was not to their liking. Not only is this interesting news anyway, but it's alarming to hear that they might be stripping the movie of everything that Spike Jonze brought to it in order to make a more commercial movie suited towards kids.
If you're not familiar with the beloved children's book, it's about a kid who creates a world of his own that is inhabited by "fabulous wild creatures", or giant cuddly monsters. In Jonze's live action adaptation, they cast a completely unknown kid to play Max, ironically named Max Records in real life, and used Jim Henson Creature Shop giant suits to portray the monsters. The plan initially was to shoot the film entirely with these giant suits and animate the faces later with CGI. I saw an example of this process in footage at ShowEast last fall, and it looked pretty awesome, in a visually unique Spike Jonze sort of way.
While Warner Brothers might publicly try and claim that they've run into technical issues related to the filming technique mentioned above, Devin from CHUD has uncovered the real truth behind the matter.
Sources tell me that the suits at Legendary and Warner Bros are not happy with Max Records, the actor playing Max, the mischievous boy who is crowned King of the Wild Things. Worse than that, they don't like the film's tone and want to go back to the script drawing board, possibly losing the Spike Jonze/Dave Eggers script when they do it. Apparently the film is too weird and 'too scary,' and the character of Max is being seen as not likable...
Spike Jonze is one of the most talented creative filmmakers on this planet. You may remember him as the high pitched soldier in Three Kings, but that's not what he's really known for. Besides creating some of the most visually stunning music videos on the planet (just do a search for "Spike Jonze music videos" on YouTube), he directed both Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, two of the most odd yet fantastic movies ever. In regards to Where the Wild Things Are, apparently Jonze made a more "adult" film, in the sense that it isn't acceptable for kids at all, and that, as Devin pointed out, it's weird, scary, and even "subversive".
Maurice Sendak's Caldecott Medal-winning book is really about the harmless monsters in it, imagination, and the free realm where kids play. Sendak has also apparently worked with Jonze and the co-writer Dave Eggers on the film as a consultant, which is a very good thing that means even he is satisfied with how Jonze has been adapting it. Jonze's version has already been entirely filmed and was test screened late last year. The early reactions from the audience were that the film was "dark" and "not suitable for small children", which would actually make sense considering Spike Jonze is the one who is making it. However, that's not exactly what Warner Brothers was looking for, which is seemingly why this issue has arisen.
An interesting clip from the film recently popped up online that we didn't run here on FS.net because it was just too odd (though you can watch it at SlashFilm). Jonze recently released a statement through Warner Brothers saying that the clip was very old test footage (read that here), and not actual footage from the movie. Devin points out that this may be a good sign for the film, saying that possibly "not all is lost" with this "glimmer of good news." Maybe Where the Wild Things Are isn't entirely doomed and maybe Jonze is attempting to work with Warner Brothers to resolve any issues. At least it's a good sign to see that Jonze is communicating positively with Warner Brothers.
I'm incredibly concerned that Warner Brothers is going to completely destroy a film that in Jonze's hands was likely to be incredible. Despite not being a children's movie in the sense that Warner Brothers wanted, they took a risk by bringing Jonze on to make it and in the end I think they could have something very unique that is worth taking a risk and releasing as is anyway. Like Hitman and Live Free or Die Hard before this, when studios take control of out the director's hands and edit movies to be more commercial and make more money, the result is never good. It may make a few bucks more, or hell, it may even flop (like Hitman), but in the end, it's not the movie that the filmmaker really made and it has lost that quality that they brought to it.
Do you really want Where the Wild Things Are to be relegated to the level of children's movies like The Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas? I definitely do not and beyond that I want to see Spike Jonze's adaptation of this book exactly as he made it more than anything. While not of this is entirely officially confirmed, numerous inside sources have confirmed with sites like CHUD and it's been a big rumor that has been making the rounds recently.
This is a very important issue for all of you, the public, to stand up and fight for. You might be surprised to discover that the Hollywood studios do actually listen to what you have to say, even if they later don't choose to be affected by it. We'll do our best to keep you up to date on the latest happenings regarding Where the Wild Things Are. In the meantime, we'll certainly be hoping for the best and hoping that both Jonze and Warner Brothers make the right decisions.