As we get ever so closer to the end of 2023, there are quite a few major stories that have dominated the film industry. Strikes aside, one of those stories is quite possibly the utter failure of DC superhero films this year. “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” “The Flash,” and “Blue Beetle” have all had spectacularly bad box office runs, as the general audience clearly sees these as inconsequential. (This is what happens when a studio announces a full reboot before leftover films have been released, all three films barely ven grossed $500 million worldwide collectively) The last of the DC films of 2023 is “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” which is the sequel to the biggest film in the Snyderverse. However, according to a new scandalous report from Variety, the production of this film was riddled with drama, leading to a release that could very well be the biggest disappointment of them all.
Quite often, after a major blockbuster has been released and bombed, we’ll get what is called a “post-mortem.” These are reports from behind the scenes, where people involved try to pass the blame to other people, no one trying to shoulder responsibility for what was a terrible situation. Well, ‘Aquaman 2’ has the joy of seeing this drama play out before the film is released. The Variety report, which pulls from uncovered court documents used in the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, as well as anonymous sources, points to a film production that was filled with drama, at least one unhappy star, and test screenings that have been less-than-stellar.
First, the drama surrounding one of the stars of the film, Amber Heard. Even before the film went into production, there were rumors that Heard’s role was being drastically reduced for the sequel. This, allegedly, stems from a perceived lack of chemistry between Heard and her on-screen love interest Jason Momoa, aka Aquaman. This lack of chemistry was pointed out in “Aquaman” reviews but also was noticed by the studio. Heard, as you might imagine, wasn’t very happy with this. But not only Heard, her then-boyfriend Elon Musk reportedly sent a very angry letter (via his lawyers) to Warner Bros. threatening them if they tried to remove Heard from the film. She was kept on, but the report claims that two of her major scenes (an action scene and a love scene involving Momoa) were cut.
Then, there are allegations from Heard (via the aforementioned court documents) that Jason Momoa showed up on set drunk and “dressing as Johnny [Depp]” in an attempt to harass her. Obviously, the sources close to Momoa and the production of the film deny this ever happened.
Next, the report claims the test screenings for “Aquaman 2” have been dreadful, leading to multiple instances of reshoots, including some that happened right up to the WGA strike earlier this year. However, the studio, once again, denies these claims and says there was only ever one week of reshoots.
Overall, the report paints a picture of a production that wasn’t nearly as smooth as it could have (or should have) been, as it is the sequel to a massively popular film that earned more than $1 billion globally. Now, all that is left is to see how the film fares at the box office. If the previous 2023 DC movies are any indication, fans have all but given up on these remnants of the Snyderverse. So, the idea of ‘The Lost Kingdom’ doing $1 billion seems highly unlikely. At this point, you have to assume DC and WB would be excited for the film to do half of what the original did.
“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” arrives in theaters on December 20.