THR’s unparalleled movie scooper Kim Masters is back with a report on the making of Suicide Squad which reveals the studio turmoil behind the making of the film/a>, including a director untested in the high stakes waters of superhero franchise filmmaking, a too short production period, and a struggle to get to the final cut.

According to Masters, after Warners was shocked by the reaction to BvS, two different versions of SS were screened:

A source with knowledge of events says Warners executives, nervous from the start, grew more anxious after they were blindsided and deeply rattled by the tepid response to BvS. “Kevin was really pissed about damage to the brand,” says one executive close to the studio. A key concern for Warners executives was that Suicide Squad didn’t deliver on the fun, edgy tone promised in the strong teaser trailer for the film. So while Ayer pursued his original vision, Warners set about working on a different cut, with an assist from Trailer Park, the company that had made the teaser.

In May, Ayer’s more somber version and a lighter, studio-favored version were tested with audiences in Northern California. “If there are multiple opinions that aren’t in sync, you go down multiple tracks — two tracks at least,” says an insider. “That was the case here for a period of time, always trying to get to a place where you have consensus.” Those associated with the film insist Ayer agreed to and participated in the process. Once feedback on the two versions was analyzed, it became clear it was possible to get to “a very common-ground place.” (The studio-favored version with more characters introduced early in the film and jazzed-up graphics won.) Getting to that place of consensus, however, required millions of dollars worth of additional photography.

So there’s the truth behind all those reshoots. The real problem is that Ayers had only 6 weeks to write the script. Unless you’re Rod Serling, that usually doesn’t work out so well, and Ayer is no Rod Serling.

While Suicide Squad does look to be the moneymaker that the studio desperately needs, it still needs to make $750-800 million worldwide to make money. And there’s a fan base that is SO rabid for this film that they are actually petitioning for Rotten Tomatoes to take down their negative ratings for the movie. 

What always amazes me in these stories is the fundamental disconnectedness of studio execs from what audiences like. When I saw the first footage of BvS at Comic-Con two years ago everyone wrote that it looked dark and broody and a little silly. Had execs just read tweets they might have got a hitn that the reaction to BvS would not be all they hoped. How do people get so insulated? I think it’s partly privilege but also the kind of temperament it takes to commit $100 million dollars to making a movie. Once you pull that particularly trigger, you on’t spend a whole lot of time second guessing yourself or you shouldn’t be in that job. 

At any rate, my own insiders tell me that these kinds of missteps are in the past, as the new structure at DC Films with Jon Berg and Geoff Johns in control don’t think “violent and misanthropic” means “serious” and the tone at this year’s Comic-Con panel was much lighter, more positive and looks to have things on a more even keel. 

And people are looking forward to DC’s movies! I was at the supermarket to get some kale and quinoa and the checkout clerk, a young black man, saw my Comic-Con computer bag and mentioned how he dreamed of going someday. “That Wonder Woman trailer looked great,” he told me. 

That’s what you call “good buzz.” Warners needs a lot of it. 


  1. Regarding the SDCC BvS footage, it’s easy to say they should’ve seen the negativity coming. However, look at the heaps of praise dumped on Scott Pilgrim vs the World when it was at SDCC ’10. While it may be a more beloved movie, it was a box office flop. It’s hard to judge which buzz to believe and which buzz to ignore when dealing with the con audience.

  2. It seems like you the ender for the link html didn’t close properly

    Otherwise I can’t say I’m too shocked by this report. The first trailer and everything else just stuck out too me as very odd. That mixed with the overall turmoil coming out of BvS and well I guess you get this, a slapdash attempt to change a mostly finished product for the worse.

  3. Everyone I know who has seen it has sided with the reviewers and said it was awful. So apparently rushing a film through production clearly didn’t work,. It’ll be interesting to see how fast we get Wonder Woman promotional stuff out everywhere. Because that’s coming very soon.

  4. “The real problem is that Ayers had only 6 weeks to write the script. Unless you’re Rod Serling, that usually doesn’t work out so well, and Ayer is no Rod Serling.”

    Or Joss Whedon. Mark Ruffalo has said that when he was offered the role of Bruce Banner, there was no script for THE AVENGERS. Robert Downey Jr. persuaded him to take the role anyway. Whedon was able to work miracles on that movie, but not, alas, on the 2015 sequel.

    “So apparently rushing a film through production clearly didn’t work.”

    Unfortunately, franchise movies are constantly rushed through production. The reason is that the release dates are announced years in advance, and they have to meet those dates, come hell or high water. Because the merchandise will be on the shelves at that time. So even if a franchise movie isn’t finished, it has to be dumped into theaters.

  5. Comic and actor Mike Birbiglia has some interesting comments:

    “Suicide Squad has machine gun killings and bombings and got a PG-13 rating. Don’t Think Twice (his own movie) gets an R because adults smoke pot. Confusing?”

    Judd Apatow chimed in on Twitter:

    “Studios own the ratings board. Violence sells so they make pot and sex the scary thing so they seem caring.”

  6. Rottentomatoes shouldn’t be closed just ignored. The majority of the critics are mediocre and must be ignored. It is absurd that a masterpiece like The Wolf of Wall Street has less positive reviews than Avengers and Captain America.

  7. I was interested in suicide squad at first when I saw the first trailer and I thought it was gonna be watchmen meets the devil’s rejects, but then the colorful second trailer and I thought to myself “are you fucking kidding me?”, they should’ve went with the darker version and not the lighthearted one

Comments are closed.