It’s never good news to hear when a director gets locked out of the editing bay, particularly when it comes to a big budget tentpole movie. While rumors of Stephen Sommers battling executives over “G.I. Joe: The Rise Of The Cobra” surfaced and were quickly scuttled, it didn’t really matter because the movie made money and has spawned a sequel arriving next summer (though notably, without Sommers this time around). So whether or not this battle will have an effect on the movie creatively or otherwise, it does somewhat poison the well on perceptions of the film for the time being as fanboys will surely voice their concern (even if exact details are hard to come by just yet).
But here’s what we do know. According to 24 Frames director Pete Travis has effectively been locked out of the editing bay on “Dredd” after butting heads with producers and executives over “creative differences.” But here’s the interesting twist. Screenwriter Alex Garland, who is also a producer on the film, is now leading the editing bay team that consists of fellow suits Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich, and apparently his work has been so extensive that he may seek out a co-directing credit on the movie.
Of course, just what got Travis booted off the movie is unknown, though some say the footage from the shoot earlier this year wasn’t up to scratch and moreover, reshoots may be in the works (though if Travis gets to direct remains to be seen). However, not all the sources speaking to 24 Frames agree, with some saying that the director “is keeping up with progress via the Internet.” But even if that’s the case, it’s clear that the producers and executives would prefer Travis stay away from the editing bay, and it appears he won’t be having any final say on how the material is shaped. But this is certainly a blow for a movie that had been building up some incredible promise.
Said to be a gritty, R-rated take on the material that falls somewhere between “Die Hard” and “Blade Runner,” the film stars Karl Urban along with Lena Headey and Olivia Thirlby, in a story that finds Dredd pairing up with a trainee judge with psychic powers (Thirlby) to take on Ma-Ma (Headey), the matriarch of a drug gang that deals a reality-altering narcotic known as SLO-MO, and who presides despotically over an enormous apartment block called Peach Trees, in which most of the action is set. We’ve read the script and while it captures the spirit of the character, with great opportunities for gore and infused with some moral ambiguity peppered throughout (basically, it’s an Alex Garland script), the success of it really depends on if Travis was able to capture what was on the page, in the camera. And reading between the lines here, that seems to be what’s at issue (which may be why Garland is so heavily invested in making sure his script turns out right).
All this said, the movie is still about a year away from its release date and there is still lots of time to tweak and tinker and get everybody on the same page. This story will probably go into spin control on both sides soon enough, and we’d wager this probably won’t be the last we hear about the battle behind the scenes of “Dredd.” But the movie does have tremendous promise, and it certainly can’t be worse than Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 movie…can it? We’ll find out on September 21, 2012.