After three years of development, filming, multiple edits, expensive reshoots with a new director and a plot that makes 2004’s The Core look sane, Geostorm finally washed up in cinemas over the weekend. Taking an underwhelming $13 million domestically, Geostorm cost $120 million to make and is set to lose Warner Bros more than $100 million.
When the first trailer arrived, I thought it was going to be a spoof with its high-concept low-logic plot about a satellite that fixed global warming freaks out (or is hacked) and causes weird weather all over the world. Naturally, only a scientist played by Gerard Butler can save us all before oceans of CGI water wash over the globe. I like to think the general public can spot a box office dud in advance, forget Rotten Tomatoes, a crap trailer will kill your film’s potential long before the critics.
Much like Warcraft, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Huntsman, Valerian, and many more, a terrible trailer paved the way for an even worse movie. However, a borrowed poster from Inception and a woeful marketing campaign aside, Geostorm’s troubled production is what has led to a film that is at best, an expensive joke.
The directorial debut of Independence Day, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow producer Dean Devlin is well within the genre he built a career on, so what the hell happened. According to Deadline, production partner Skydance were too busy with Terminator and Star Trek to give Geostorm much attention. As Devlin is a veteran of the disaster genre, Skydance didn’t feel the need to micro-manage him and just let Devlin get on with making the film. However, Devlin hadn’t directed a film before let alone something on this scale, sure, he’s produced them before, but directing is an entirely different beast.
After months of filming and extensive post-production, Devlin screened a cut to the producers, and according to Deadline, the early version was called “unwatchable”. A few more edits later and it was clear that the most significant problem was a poorly explained premise and thinly drawn characters, so the producers reached out to action producer Jerry Bruckheimer to help fix the movie. Devlin was consulted on their plans for the reshoots, but British filmmaker Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd) was brought in to direct.
It remains unclear to what extent the reshoots altered the end product, but the attempts to salvage the film seem to have been in vain. Before Warner Bros ordered the extensive reshoots, they had spent close to $100 million, which is ironically the sum of money the studio stands to lose. It might have been less expensive to have boxed up all the Geostorm footage and left it in the same warehouse as The Ark of the Covenant.
What I’ve taken just over five hundred words to say is, when a studio hires an unproven director for a big budget production, they need to make sure the script is locked down and that the filmmaker has the support they need.
In an age of Sharknado and the disaster movie being bread and butter to the Syfy channel, is there any place for oh so serious fodder like Geostorm? I think Warner Bros missed a trick here; they should have used the reshoots to transform the film into a comedy. A big-budget disaster comedy, now that sounds like it could be worth buying a ticket to see.