Chaos Walking‘s initial cut apparently lived up to its name, as Lionsgate and director Doug Liman’s movie was reportedly deemed “unreleasable” prior to its reshoots. An adaptation of Patrick Ness’ sci-fi novels of the same name, Chaos Walking takes place in a dystopian future world where all women are believed to have been wiped out and a virus allows people the ability to hear other humans and animals’ thoughts. It’s a pretty tricky concept to translate into a film right off the bat, so it’s little wonder that Lionsgate’s struggled to get their movie version off the ground since landing the rights in 2011.
Several writers have taken a stab at the Chaos Walking script over the years (Charlie Kaufman, Jamie Linden, Lindsey Beer, John Lee Hancock, and Ness among them), while Robert Zemeckis came aboard as director in 2013, only to step down and be replaced by Liman three years later. Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley signed on to star thereafter, and the film seemed to be on-track to make a March 2019 release date for a while there. Of course, that was before things changed almost exactly a year ago.
In April 2018, it was reported that Chaos Walking needed to undergo reshoots and might end up missing its release date. Ultimately, however, the reshoots wound up being delayed by about twelve months due to Holland and Ridley’s commitment to filming Spider-Man: Far From Home and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, respectively. According to TWSJ, Lionsgate executives felt the earliest cuts of Chaos Walking were quite poor and otherwise “unreleasable”. They’re now hoping to salvage the film with the reshoots, which are scheduled to last three weeks and should substantially increase the movie’s $100 million production budget.
As it happens, this isn’t anything unusual for Liman’s films. The director is infamous for working on movies that are pretty chaotic during production (going over budget, needing on-set script rewrites), yet end up turning a tidy profit at the box office. That’s been the case for many of his releases to date, anyway, including action movies like The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and the Tom Cruise-led Edge of Tomorrow. Even his Jumper adaptation made a whole lot of money in theaters, in spite of its negative critical reception and inability to get a sequel off the ground.
Question is, will Chaos Walking be the exception to that rule (whenever it reaches theaters) or become another tumultuous shoot-turned box office hit for Liman? Lionsgate is certainly hoping it’s the latter and is only carrying out the reshoots on the chance that they improve the film’s commercial potential. Then again, the YA sci-fi craze has very much died down (in case the failure of last summer’s The Darkest Minds wasn’t proof enough), so it’s difficult to say if there’s even really a demand for the movie at all, its overarching quality aside. Time will tell on this one.