When a clip from Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are turned up online a couple of weeks ago, it sparked both excitement and confusion across the web. Fans had been dying to get a feel for what this movie would be like, and although it was later confirmed to be an early test and not actual footage from the film, it still looked like nothing anyone had ever seen before. As time goes on, however, it’s becoming apparent that the leaked footage was probably not an accident, and may have in fact been a strategic attempt to save the project.
According to a report on CHUD last week, the higher-ups at Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures are not very happy with the way the movie is shaping up. There are a number of different issues with the project, one of which is technical (adding the facial animation for the Wild Things in post-production is proving to be a major challenge), but the others are business and marketing related. Word on the street is that the execs don’t like the young lead actor, Max Records, and they feel that the movie is too dark and just generally too weird. I can’t say I’m surprised, but did they really expect Spike Jonze to deliver a formulaic Disney fairytale for kids? To be honest, what we’ve seen reminds me a bit of Jim Henson’s movies from the 80’s like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, which were made for kids but also had darker elements to them. It appears that in this day and age, that is simply unacceptable.
The big question now is what will become of this movie. They’ve supposedly already spent $75 million, and yet it sounds like they are gearing up for a complete reshoot, and there’s a chance they may throw the original Spike Jonze/Dave Eggers script away. In fact, there’s also a chance Jonze could be removed from the project entirely (Devin at CHUD reminds us of the Exorcist fiasco that also happened at Warner Brothers with the Paul Schrader/Renny Harlin prequel). Today, /Film reports that the release date for Where The Wild Things Are has officially been pushed back to October 16th, 2009. It certainly sounds like they’re preparing to start over again from scratch, but I sincerely hope they don’t just discard Jonze’s work and instead do their best to work through the issues at hand.