Pay attention to any movie news site or message board, and you’ll see them discussed to death:
The word has become taboo, triggering thousands (tens of thousands?) of heated Reddit threads and blistering comment sections over the last few years. Vile connotations accompany those eight letters like their sum is an unstoppable plague spreading from film to film, destroying the prospects of so many once-promising movies. In a heartbeat, fans turn on even their most beloved franchises and reel in horror at the idea of cinematic patchwork.
The latest example is Warner Bros’ Justice League, which required a robust reshoot schedule spearheaded by replacement director Joss Whedon. The revamping stirred up yet another outcry of fan panic, but why does this abhorrence to movie revisions keep occurring that simply isn’t present in other forms of media?
Novelists aren’t criticized for the quality of their first drafts, and painters aren’t judged off of just one layer. Hell, the article you are reading right now will encounter multiple revisions by the time it goes live, and this is just a product of two people, myself and an editor. A $200 million film, on the other hand, has hundreds of moving pieces — a fact which all of us geeks who stay to see post-credits sequences are painfully aware of. So why should reshoots be regarded as the black sheep of Hollywood? After all, are movies not just a creative endeavor taking place on a grander scale?
Victims of the New Digital Age
One of the primary driving forces of the anti-reshoot movement is the thinking that they are a recent development. This is, in actuality, a fallacy. Additional photography has been a natural part of the filmmaking process for decades. The only difference between a film being made in the 1970s versus one being made right now is the microscope our online society has placed upon them.
If they know where to look, fans can get an almost constant stream of updates such as photos taken directly from the set while cameras are still rolling. This nonstop coverage enables audiences to be more aware of the inner-workings of the movie industry than ever before. We know who will be starring in films that are still three or more years down the line; we know which celebrities have beefs with each other because of info they willingly upload to their Instagrams, and we know exactly when studios order up reshoots. This isn’t necessarily a positive thing, however, since the internet is full of commenters getting worked up over movies that don’t even properly exist yet.
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