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“A Living Hell”: ‘The Revenant’ Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More

"A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More

No one has been shy about the difficulties that have been endured during the production of Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s “The Revenant.” The filmmaker’s insistence to shoot his wintry drama in sequence, on real deal locations, in natural daylight, has seen his reliance on unpredictable weather lead to a movie that still has yet to shoot its ending, even though the release date is just months away. So yes, things haven’t been easy, but as a new report from THR notes, the behind-the-scenes drama may be matching, or exceeding, whatever ends up on screen.

According to the trade, the film’s budget is soaring. Originally kicking off with a pricetag of $60 million, the film’s costs have already jumped to $95 million are expected to exceed $135 million once all is said and done. And according to an unnamed source, the shoot has been “a living hell.” And the blame seems to be coming down to two people: producer Jim Skotchdopole —who was reportedly barred from the set, and left the movie — and Iñárritu himself.

In the case of the former, it seems poor planning was a factor in exacerbating whatever issues the filmmaker might’ve been having during an already technically challenging shoot. “You’ve got to let the director know: ‘We can’t do that. We have no money or time in the schedule,'” a crewmember told the trade. While Iñárritu denies barring the producer from the set, he does say the problems got so bad that the hiatus in the midst of the production was extended from two to six weeks as a result, which was one of the contributing factors to Tom Hardy dropping out of “Suicide Squad.” Mary Parent eventually took over for Skotchdopole on set.

Elsewhere, it seems there was a general lack of understanding of just how demanding doing elaborate, “Birdman“-style tracking shots in the middle of winter in natural light might be or how much it might cost. “It’s 4 o’clock, and you’ve got an hour and a half of daylight, and it’s not the light he wants to shoot in. If you want to seamlessly stitch [the footage] together, it’s not going to match,” a crewmember told THR, while another complained that, “We’d never shoot what we blocked. Everything was indecisive….”

For his part, the director is meeting the criticism head on. “I have nothing to hide,” he told THR. “There were problems, but none of them made me ashamed.” And he owns up to the rumors of multiple crew members being fired, replaced, or quitting saying, “as a director, if I identify a violin that is out of tune, I have to take that from the orchestra.” However, one senses that the on set problems only fed the creative drive of the entire effort.

“There was something very positive about shooting in those conditions, to understand what those guys [from the 1820s] went through,” Iñárritu told Grantland. “We don’t have adventures anymore. Now people say, ‘I went to India … it’s an adventure.’ No: We have GPS, a phone, nobody gets lost. Those guys really were in a huge physical, emotional adventure in [an] unknown territory. After you see what these guys went through, you understand what pussies we are: Our apartment is not at the right temperature, there is no ham in the fridge, and the water is a little cold … When did that happen?

“Actors were not in sets with green screens and laughing,” he added. “They were miserable! And they really feel the fucking cold in their ass! They were not acting at all!”

There is an odd poetry about a survival drama struggling to find its way to completion, but it would seem foolish to bet on anything but Iñárritu seeing the job through in spectacular style. “The Revenant” opens on Christmas Day.

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Mark L. Power

I guess everyone’s forgotten that all the pundits said Jaws was destined for failure long before it opened. The same with Apocalypse Now. And Godfather was greeted with "not another Mafia film" before anyone saw it. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers and wait until you see the film.


Leo has been growing movie after movie and all his recent films have been really exciting to watch. Hope this one fall too in that group.


The making of could rival burden of dreams?


Many cinema lovers forget about the men and women working below the line to create these spectacles. To say that nobody remembers what happens on set when the movie is made is wrong, because then you are invalidating the many crew members involved. These people give their lives. Others only seem to pay attention when someone is killed or seriously injured. Don’t forget that this movie is an object that was made by real people who could have been risking their lives in this environment.


If the story is good going over-budget is only a headache for the producers/studio, not the audience, luckily. Hopefully this script is strong; integrating long takes usually helps keep a film at a snappy pace. Based on this info it doesn’t seem that we’re dealing with an overblown mess here, just a bad shoot.


Am I the only one getting Heaven’s Gate vibes from these reports? I don’t mean re Cimino’s movie (as it’s regarded now): I mean in the weird inside-baseball schadenfreude of the coverage. I’m no great fan of Iñárritu’s (Babel, and then Biutiful were more nonsense than I could stand); but I don’t understand the significance of a film’s budget, scheduling & insurance concerns to the layman. When you’re watching a film, NONE of this crap matters.


I heard the exact same thing last week. Pretty sweet, if true.


I have heard a story that has been going around that basically says Hardy was getting fed up with the directors demanding style and wanted him to take off something (clothing maybe) the prop guy gave him to keep warm. The two then stepped away from the set to "talk" and a short time later only Hardy returned. Others went to check on the director who was out cold, presumably punched by Hardy. So there’s that!

Prince Valiant

More like Man in the Wilderness (Richard Harris/John Huston) of our times.


Days of Heaven of uor times


After reading the full story at THR one thing is clear: Gonzalez Iñarritu thinks he’s a genius. Pretty embarrassing. So full of himself. Perro Amor is still his best film… He’s very overrated


Every set has problems. Iñárritu is a very good director. Time will tell if the final movie will be worth it, but I don’t see why it would be a flop and not make it’s money back. "Revenant" will probably sweep the Academy Awards.


this news makes me more hopeful than the trailer did


I think it’s great. It shows drive and determination from the director. This is what film-making should be – a struggle. I’m a film-maker and there’s always times of hell, but it’s how you pull through to create the vision. I love how there’s a vision with this film, a real care for creating something special. This is what makes great films. He’s a great Director – he has the persistence. These problems are irrelevant.


Why do pussies get such a bad rap? With the kind of poundings they often take…


This is going to be amazing. The stories coming out of this challenging production are just starting. Wait till Oscar season. This will be a big film and Leo’s first Academy Award.


The interweb scaremongers would have lost their minds over Apocalypse Now – thankfully they don’t have a say in the creative process – so let’s just watch the movie when it arrives


Seems Inarritu is going the way of Sam Peckinpah. I’m hoping I hear stories soon enough of his rampant alcohol abuse.

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Working in cold conditions is harsh! No doubt the movie will be great. Shit happens on every set. This has big talent attached, so everybody(Internet) loses their mind.

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