The past few DC movies, especially The Flash, have been spotlighted and called out for their rashes of reshoots that ultimately did nothing to improve the final product. Reshoots are accounted for in the average blockbuster movie’s budget as a necessity under normal circumstances, but these are extraordinary times in Hollywood.
The Flash, for one, underwent multiple reshoots that changed the ending and much of the plot. Similarly, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is said to have undergone numerous reshoots that altered the film’s connection to the larger DCEU, which is now practically dead.
Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck’s Batman variants were the most prominent victims tossed under the bus in this process. As of this writing, neither is set to appear in the Aquaman sequel, even though they were poised to with the direction the DCEU was heading.
In fact, a new report from The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit notes that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has undergone three sets of reshoots since it originally finished principal photography in January 2022. The report notes the film underwent two reshoots between the summer of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 after it received “uninspiring test screenings.”
Now, even after these two reshoots, the film received a third set in the middle of June that was shot in New Zealand reportedly over the course of four days despite being approved for five days. Kit notes this third round of reshoots “is almost an unprecedented number, even for a movie of this scale.”
While it’s unclear what exactly the issue is with the film, THR’s Borys Kit shares, “one insider said the issue of story clarity has been an ongoing concern.”
Interestingly, the film’s director James Wan previously detailed to The Hollywood Reporter that he “had to make adjustments all along the way” in order for the film to adapt to the new leadership at DC Studios and their vision for the future of the DC Universe.
He added, “The DCU has been through lots of different versions, and one of the things that was challenging about this film was keeping track of what’s going on.”
In a bit of a turn he then noted his film isn’t really connected despite just explaining he had to make adjustments due to its connective nature, ” Fortunately, the Aquaman universe is pretty far removed from the rest of the world. We’re going to many different underwater kingdoms that are not necessarily related to what’s happening with the other movies and characters, so we’re stand-alone in that respect.”
“So I can just tell my story on its own without being affected too much, but at the same time, I have to be mindful of what’s been happening,” he concluded.
As for film’s story, Wan shared, “I think people are going to be excited to see that this movie is quite different from the first movie in terms of tone. It’s a little bit more serious, and we’re dealing with issues like climate change.”
“We’re not afraid to lean into that in a big way, because the Aquaman comic book, even way back when, has always been environmentally conscious. He’s always been someone who’s fought to keep the ocean clean, and it feels more relevant in the world that we’re living in today. So this movie has something to talk about, but it’s still a fun action-fantasy movie,” he said.
In contrast to Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the upcoming Blue Beetle film began production during this turbulence at Warner Bros. Discovery and appeared to be the exception, escaping the chaotic treadmill of endless rewrites and reshoots.
However, Kit’s report does note that the film did receive two days of additional shooting although it’s unclear if this was already scheduled reshoots that films typically include in their budgets or if it was similar to Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’s reshoots, which are clear unplanned shoots that inflate the film’s budget.
What do you make of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom undergoing a third set of reshoots? Sound off in the comments section below.