Over the past few days I've been hearing some rumblings and rumors about Where the Wild Things Are that say the film is in trouble internally at Warner Brothers. Initially I heard that director Spike Jonze wanted to remove his name, but now via CHUD some new information has arrived saying that the execs at Warners are looking at reshooting the entire $75 million film because what Jonze created was not to their liking. Not only is this interesting news anyway, but it's alarming to hear that they might be stripping the movie of everything that Spike Jonze brought to it in order to make a more commercial movie suited towards kids.
If you're not familiar with the beloved children's book, it's about a kid who creates a world of his own that is inhabited by "fabulous wild creatures", or giant cuddly monsters. In Jonze's live action adaptation, they cast a completely unknown kid to play Max, ironically named Max Records in real life, and used Jim Henson Creature Shop giant suits to portray the monsters. The plan initially was to shoot the film entirely with these giant suits and animate the faces later with CGI. I saw an example of this process in footage at ShowEast last fall, and it looked pretty awesome, in a visually unique Spike Jonze sort of way.
While Warner Brothers might publicly try and claim that they've run into technical issues related to the filming technique mentioned above, Devin from CHUD has uncovered the real truth behind the matter.
Sources tell me that the suits at Legendary and Warner Bros are not happy with Max Records, the actor playing Max, the mischievous boy who is crowned King of the Wild Things. Worse than that, they don't like the film's tone and want to go back to the script drawing board, possibly losing the Spike Jonze/Dave Eggers script when they do it. Apparently the film is too weird and 'too scary,' and the character of Max is being seen as not likable…
Spike Jonze is one of the most talented creative filmmakers on this planet. You may remember him as the high pitched soldier in Three Kings, but that's not what he's really known for. Besides creating some of the most visually stunning music videos on the planet (just do a search for "Spike Jonze music videos" on YouTube), he directed both Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, two of the most odd yet fantastic movies ever. In regards to Where the Wild Things Are, apparently Jonze made a more "adult" film, in the sense that it isn't acceptable for kids at all, and that, as Devin pointed out, it's weird, scary, and even "subversive".
Maurice Sendak's Caldecott Medal-winning book is really about the harmless monsters in it, imagination, and the free realm where kids play. Sendak has also apparently worked with Jonze and the co-writer Dave Eggers on the film as a consultant, which is a very good thing that means even he is satisfied with how Jonze has been adapting it. Jonze's version has already been entirely filmed and was test screened late last year. The early reactions from the audience were that the film was "dark" and "not suitable for small children", which would actually make sense considering Spike Jonze is the one who is making it. However, that's not exactly what Warner Brothers was looking for, which is seemingly why this issue has arisen.
An interesting clip from the film recently popped up online that we didn't run here on FS.net because it was just too odd (though you can watch it at SlashFilm). Jonze recently released a statement through Warner Brothers saying that the clip was very old test footage (read that here), and not actual footage from the movie. Devin points out that this may be a good sign for the film, saying that possibly "not all is lost" with this "glimmer of good news." Maybe Where the Wild Things Are isn't entirely doomed and maybe Jonze is attempting to work with Warner Brothers to resolve any issues. At least it's a good sign to see that Jonze is communicating positively with Warner Brothers.
I'm incredibly concerned that Warner Brothers is going to completely destroy a film that in Jonze's hands was likely to be incredible. Despite not being a children's movie in the sense that Warner Brothers wanted, they took a risk by bringing Jonze on to make it and in the end I think they could have something very unique that is worth taking a risk and releasing as is anyway. Like Hitman and Live Free or Die Hard before this, when studios take control of out the director's hands and edit movies to be more commercial and make more money, the result is never good. It may make a few bucks more, or hell, it may even flop (like Hitman), but in the end, it's not the movie that the filmmaker really made and it has lost that quality that they brought to it.
Do you really want Where the Wild Things Are to be relegated to the level of children's movies like The Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas? I definitely do not and beyond that I want to see Spike Jonze's adaptation of this book exactly as he made it more than anything. While not of this is entirely officially confirmed, numerous inside sources have confirmed with sites like CHUD and it's been a big rumor that has been making the rounds recently.
This is a very important issue for all of you, the public, to stand up and fight for. You might be surprised to discover that the Hollywood studios do actually listen to what you have to say, even if they later don't choose to be affected by it. We'll do our best to keep you up to date on the latest happenings regarding Where the Wild Things Are. In the meantime, we'll certainly be hoping for the best and hoping that both Jonze and Warner Brothers make the right decisions.
User comment: By: CraigWhat's funny about the whole thing is Alex hasn't seen the freaking movie either.
User comment: By: CraigSome of the assumptions that folks are making in the article and the comments are ridiculous. First of all, Sendak working as a consultant does not in any way guarantee that he's happy with the final product. Further, while I loved both Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, those films are at least as much Charlie Kaufman as Spike Jonze, probably more. Certainly in directing the films, Jonze was true to the message of the writer. Finally, the assumption that keeping this kid's book a kid's movie would turn it into something full of burp and fart jokes or a Barney hybrid indicates that the person making that assumption either has never read the book or is incapable of grasping its subtle beauty. I'm not saying that an adult version of Spike Jonze reinterpretation of the book couldn't be great, but when adapting a true classic, I believe most would agree that a movie should stick very closely to the story and message and tone of the original. Maybe this movie does that, maybe it does not. The book is not Barney-like or fart-jokey in any way. It is actually quite subtle and has a definite dark edge to it. I haven't seen the movie, so I'm not judging, just attempting to comment on some of the absurd assumptions I'm reading. What's funny about
User comment: By: ScorpioI was fortunate to see footage, it was a long trailer of sorts, with great music, and then some interviews and behind the scenes footage. I thought it was brilliant, it gave me goosebumps. 'Where the Wild Things Are" is dark and scary, and sad at the same time. My Favorite childrens story from when I was a kid. This is the type of film we need. It would be a shame to turn it into some happy comedy full of burp and fart jokes. Spike Jonze is a terrific director with a awesome vision. I was really looking forward to this film, the Spike Jonze film that is. If Warner turns it into some sort of Barney hybrid, they would lose, in a sense what the story is about. Hey Warner Bros suits, grow a pair, If you don't get it what makes you think the rest of the world won't! ROCK ON SPIKE, keep up the good work.
User comment: By: KevinThis is a terrible move scrapping a $75 million dollar movie would not only hurt the studio but it would kill Spike's career, if you don't believe me just look at whats happened to any filmmaker thats lost money over the last few years. I've been really jazzed to see Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are now I just hope I can.
User comment: By: Adam PitmanI saw this movie at a pre-screening in Pasadena. I feel very privileged to have seen Spike's original cut. None of the CGI was done yet except for a few short scenes (which looked fantastic). It's a brilliant film from beginning to end and I thought the child that plays Max was an outstanding actor. Really, REALLY good. It would be a shame to lose this film, as it inspired me as an artist and as a human being. Warner Bros. is making a mistake by changing one detail of this marvelous film. It is already a classic in my book.
User comment: By: KeithI read the story as a child and was very excited when I first heard about it being made, especially when Jonze was brought on board. I cant imagine it being any better than what Jonze has created already if they reshoot all of it; and then Jonze would most likely ( do I even need to qualify that?) not do it so it wouldnt be as good. All I keep thinking is Pan's Labyrinth esque + Jonze = Incredible.
User comment: By: craziemutantit'd be cool if they release two versions, an adult version and a kid version. why scrap a perfectly good movie in progress? anyway, i love kid stories seen in a darker sense. i they let us older kids remember our childhood in an adult way? haha. i don't know what i'm saying anymore. but heck, i didn't even know this movie was being done.
User comment: By: RichardI would like to see it a little dark, but then again why should this guy get to screw up a much loved KIDS book? we were kids yes and now we want to see it darker but there are still kids reading it and it should be good to them too, I'm think dark crystal kinda tone and it should be good for everyone.
User comment: By: SarahEveryone's being really presumptuous-typically siding with the cornered filmmaker as opposed to the big,bad,box office-obsessed studio executives. We know nothing about the film,and yet you're saying further correcting it will lead to something unbelievably atrocious like Cat in the Hat? One-sided.Pretentious.Now go hang out with your artsy friends to discuss what an abomination this kinda news is.
User comment: By: HerbertI agree with u Ryan, they shouldnt have touched it but it was pretty interesting. It was definitely not for small children though, it did get a little too dark at times.
User comment: By: RyanTHIS IS A KID'S MOVIE! I think Jones is trying to make it more adult and WB is stupid enough to not think he would. I liked Jones other films but this is a movie that should have stayed a book.
User comment: By: AdamI'll be heartbroken if they take it back to the drawing board.
User comment: By: HerbertI saw the movie (working print) at a screening in Pasadena a few months ago and LOVED it. The kid was a little older that I had pictured but everything else was great, from the camera style (handheld) to the music. It was totally SPIKE and was really cool.
Visit here to subscribe to commentsUser comment: By: CaseyI think WB should just back off and let Jonze work his magic. i would love to see a story like this shot with an adult mood, thats why i loved pan's labyrinth so mcuh cause it was dark and moody and likeable for adults. this just goes to show that studios dont care about art, they just want money.