Despite all of the fuss that we (and everyone else) made in February when news hit that Spike Jonze's adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are was being entirely reshot, our worst nightmares have been realized. Bloody Disgusting reports that Warner Brothers will start reshooting Where the Wild Things Are on June 5th and will work all the way through June 30th. A full 25 days of reshoots is not a good sign for this film. We originally reported that the film was "too weird" and "too scary" for Warner Brothers' taste and was being taken out of Jonze's hands in order to be made they way the execs want it.
Since we first posted the news in February, I've heard various reports both confirming and denying the rumors. I most recently heard that while Warner Brothers is a bit upset, Spike Jonze is still involved and is putting the finishing touches on his creation. Now we get this news from Bloody Disgusting that seems to say the project is headed in the entire opposite direction. They say that "it is unclear how much is being reshot, but there are new casting calls out for various stand-in roles." While it wouldn't be right to start guessing what this means exactly, it at least seems clear that Warner Brothers is reworking this and won't be leaving it the way it was originally shot by Jonze.
On a related note, Kim Voynar at Cinematical recently caught up with Tom Noonan at Cannes, who voices one of the wild things, and questioned him on all things Where the Wild Things Are. Noonan spoke briefly about the involvement of the book's author Maurice Sendak, saying he "was involved. We'd do these video conferences with him where he'd be like, 'if you can't be children, don't be in the fucking movie.' He'd say, 'I want to see children. I don't know any adults who are able to be children,' and he'd give us these pep talks where he'd say, 'don't do what you always do, do what you've always needed to do." I'm not exactly sure what to make of that, but it's good to hear Sendak is involved and is pushing strongly to maintain the original vision of the book.
It's my understanding that Where the Wild Things Are is being edited to be more family friendly. If I may take a moment to warn Warner Brothers - you've got another Speed Racer on your hands! I love Warner Brothers and usually praise them for their marketing efforts, but if you recall, Speed Racer was one of the few times where they screwed up. The studio made a brilliant decision in choosing Spike Jonze to direct the adaptation, but is ruining the film that he created all because they want this to be a kids movie! At this point, everyone knows that it would do much, much better if it was just released the way Jonze intended it to be seen, because if they start messing with the balance between appealing to kids and genius filmmaking, it's guaranteed to flop.
Let's hope these reshoots aren't part of a new plan to completely redo most of the movie. Our original report said that Warner Brothers wasn't happy with Max Records, the kid actor playing Max, and that they didn't like the tone and wanted to all the way back to the script for revisions. I'm fearing for the worst and guessing that this means the execs have finally worked things out the way they want and are now reshooting it in order to actually get the footage they need to make it family friendly. Considering the release date is still set for 2009, I'm guessing they're expecting us to forget about all of this in 16 months time. And from what I can tell, they'll regret this decision 16 months from now when the film flops.