By Nicholas Seles
With the release dates and production timelines for new films constantly being moved further and further away, filmmakers are turning to past projects to keep their creative juices flowing.
This past summer at DC FanDome, director Zack Snyder officially announced he would be getting the chance to re-edit and release his vision of Justice League. After Snyder and his wife suffered the loss of their teenage daughter in 2017, he stepped away from the project and brought in Joss Whedon. After a series of rewrites and reshoots, the final product resembled very little of Snyder’s film.
The result was a thrashing by fans and critics, a disbanding of the cast (Ben Affleck stepped away from the role of Batman and Henry Cavill’s future as Superman was up in the air – no pun intended) and a tossing-aside of the film, disregarding its importance to the overall franchise.
Now, after a strong movement known as #ReleaseTheSnyderCut took social media by storm, Snyder will get to show off his four hour (or longer) vision of the superhero team-up that got scrapped.
Snyder isn’t the only filmmaker taking advantage of the isolation, however.
Famed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola has taken the time he’s had in quarantine to revisit The Godfather, Part III. Originally written by himself and novelist Mario Puzo, The Godfather, Part III released to mixed reviews. Even one of the film’s stars didn’t enjoy how it closed the story of the Corleone crime family.
“When I saw it, I thought, Well, this movie doesn’t work. I had just dismissed it. I thought, No, it’s not good,” Diane Keaton told Vanity Fair in a recent interview.
Then came Coppola’s recutting of the film which shortens the opening sequence and dives right into the core of the story. Coppola also restructured scenes, moving the entire dynamic of the movie around and gave the film a new ending – the one he wanted from the start with Michael Corleone suffering “a fate worse than death”.
At a recent screening of the finished product, cast members, including Keaton, Andy Garcia, Talia Shire and Al Pacino, got the chance to see the new film, and it gave them a new perspective on the once black sheep of the Godfather trilogy.
“I saw it in a totally different light, a completely different point of view. It was touching and moving and the way he managed his daughter in this and the way he changed his story in the end,” Keaton said.
The re-edit of the film, The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, intends to stay true, or at least close to the original story that was originally written for the initial release of the film. Coppola claimed it was a rushed production schedule that caused the initial cut of the film.
It’s a benefit for both the studio, the filmmakers and audiences as the opportunity to revisit old projects isn’t something that is a common occurrence. Director’s cuts of films do make the grade from time to time, such as Peter Jackson’s extended cuts for The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, or even the changes to visual effects in Star Wars made by George Lucas, but complete overhauls of the narrative structure is a process that many studios have yet to invest in.
David Ayer, the director behind 2016’s Suicide Squad, another DC project that suffered from rushed re-edits before release, says he has been re-editing the film to match his originally intended tone in the hopes to have it released similarly to Snyder’s cut. No such release date has yet to be granted to him, however.
Whether or not or more studios and filmmakers will enter the editing bays to re-cut more films in the future remains to be seen. Zack Snyder’s Justice League will premiere on HBO Max in November 2021 and Coppola’s The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone will be available on video-on-demand services on Tuesday, Dec. 8.