Suicide Squad hasn’t even hit theaters everywhere yet, but it’s already projected to be one of Warner Bros.’ biggest box office successes of the year. Even if the film makes buckets of money (which is probably will), there will still be the inevitable debate about whether it’s actually a good movie or not.
Initial reviews haven’t been very favorable, and DC fanboys even started started a petition to shut down RottenTomatoes.com for being too mean to the newest Zack Snyder comic book movie. A recent report from The Hollywood Reporter may shed some light on why the movie isn’t living up to expectations.
A source with knowledge of events says Warners executives, nervous from the start, grew more anxious after they were blindsided and deeply rattled by the tepid response to Batman v Superman. “Kevin [Tsujihara, Warner Bros. CEO] was really pissed about damage to the brand,” says one executive close to the studio. A key concern for Warners executives was that Suicide Squad didn’t deliver on the fun, edgy tone promised in the strong teaser trailer for the film. So while Ayer pursued his original vision, Warners set about working on a different cut, with an assist from Trailer Park, the company that had made the teaser.
In the end, Ayer and the studio came to some sort of ill-advised compromise. That required expensive re-shoots, allegedly to add humor to the film. The budget ballooned to just shy of $200 million, according to some.
In May, Ayer’s more somber version and a lighter, studio-favored version were tested with audiences in Northern California. “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.
Suicide Squad is just the third movie in the planned DC Cinematic Universe, which is currently set to include Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and at least two Justice League films. From the sounds of things, with studio executives arguing with directors over the tone and content of the films, Warner Bros.’ plans are anything but set it stone.