This weekend, Tom Cruise is back in theatres with the sci-fi blockbuster “Edge Of Tomorrow,” one of the few summer movies not based on a toy, comic or video game (though it is based on a book). While our reviewers were split, the movie promises an intriguing premise, Cruise in action hero mode, and director Doug Liman operating at full throttle. But there was a moment just before cameras rolled, where it seemed the movie might come off the rails.
The LA Times reports that the script went through quite an overhaul on the way to the big screen. The screenplay by Dante Harper (“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters“), an adaptation of the novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, was acquired in 2010 by Warner Bros. for a not insignificant $3 million dollars. From there, Joby Harold (“Awake“) took a stab at it, updating the tale from a younger to an older protagonist. Then Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (“Fair Game“), followed by Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: Days Of Future Past“) and lastly, Christopher McQuarrie (“Valkyrie,” “Jack Reacher“). And yet, eight weeks before production was to start, Liman wasn’t happy with the final act. (And if you’re wondering where development costs go, here’s a prime example.) The result? An unhappy meeting between the director, Cruise and Emily Blunt.
“I was a little under pressure and I snapped,” Liman said. “And Emily said, ‘Easy, I’ve never made a movie like this before!’ I fired back, ‘Well, neither have I!’ The room sort of ground to a halt. My producer Erwin Stoff told me later it was the most incredible thing he’d ever heard anyone say: The director telling the stars of the movie that, basically, he had no idea what he was doing.”
Now, remember, Liman’s reputation for going over budget and being a bit out of control is slightly legendary. “The Bourne Identity” cemented that personality, with the movie going $8 million over budget as Liman and studio battled over the shape of the final product. Regardless, all Cruise saw was a determined filmmaker. “It didn’t faze me at all,” Cruise told the paper. “Good. Whatever. There’s no doubt about this guy’s talent, no doubt about his taste and his commitment. And one of the ways Doug works, you’re developing the tone as you’re working.”
So what happened? Filming started without a finished a script, but they got in the can, ready for a prime summer release date, and early reviews (besides our dissenting opinion) have largely declared it a winner. The process may have been fraught, but it looks like Liman went to the edge of tomorrow and made it to the next day.