How Fox spoiled Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    Joss Whedon was practically no one when he wrote the screenplay for his first movie at the age of 25. A descendant of comedian writers (his grandfather John wrote episodes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, his father Tom of The Golden Girls), he had himself worked on the comedies “Roseanne” and “Sweet home…sometimes!”. His idea for a feature film about a lavish teenage girl who discovers her mission in this world is to kill vampires has fallen short in Hollywood with much anticipation.

    Like so many great grievances in this world, Dolly Parton had to come to solve it. It was his producer Sandollar who bought the script in the fall of 1991 and began developing it with director Fran Rubil Causeway, who had made his debut a few years earlier with the independent comedy “Tokyo Pop”.

    “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was filmed as a teen comedy that mocks vampire movies. So director and her husband, producer Kaz Cosway, cast a glimpse of Luke Perry to play the romantic lead. Perry was a star in the film industry thanks to his role as Dylan in Sensation of Life, in which 20th Century Fox took a surprising interest. With a large studio behind it, the movie was already a reality, but Widow soon learned one of the hardest lessons for a Hollywood screenwriter to learn..

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    A children’s movie made with little time and money

    “People ask me, ‘What’s the worst job you’ve ever done? ‘ And I answered, ‘I was once a Hollywood screenwriter.’ What they do is rip off the luster of films. Almost all of my experiences have been bad.. Whedon wasn’t going with the nitty-gritty in this interview for The AV Club. When he said those words in 2001, he had already written “Alien: Resurrection” and collaborated on “Speed,” “Twister,” “Waterworld,” and “X-Men,” seeing on each occasion how the script was blamed. What in his opinion is misinformation, interpretation or bad decisions of the studios. (On the other hand, he was also one of the authors of Toy Story, It Can’t All Be Bad.)

    “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

    Twentieth Century Studios

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer was his first disappointment with the Hollywood production system. To start, 20th Century Fox joined the project in late 1991 with one condition: it had to be launched the following summer.. This gave the team very little time to start the film, specifically five weeks of pre-production and six weeks of filming. In the cinema, time is literally gone, and the less you invest in the film, the less likely you are to turn out something of quality (other shots are simply garbled).

    The staff was adding names, some of them long. For the lead, Whedon had thought of Alyssa Milano, the young star at the time, but finally it was Kristi Swanson, an actress who’s acted in a few movies, and never quite taken that important role. A budget of about $7 million did not go away. Two actors with a lot of experience and lineage like Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer will give life to Buffy’s bodyguard, Merrick, and vampire Lothos respectively. To play Lothos’ assistant, vampire Amilyn, they cast Paul Reubens, the comedian best known for his character Pee-Wee Herman, who would go on to become one of the cast members most recognized by both audiences and Whedon.

    Neither the studio nor the director shared the writer’s vision for the film. If he had written a story with a darker undertone, 20th Century Fox would want to make a light teenage summer comedy that stays rated PG-13. (Usually, that movie precludes sex, blood, extreme violence, and moments considered too extreme for their emotional fallout.) As a result, some elements, such as Merrick’s death, suicide in the original, have been altered, or removed such as the climax in which Buffy locks up all the vampires in the school gymnasium and sets it on fire. In the movie, some highly-retouched moments appear in the editing room, like that scene where Buffy cuts a sausage as if she was a member of a boy who is teasing her (only the reactive faces appear on the screen, not the special act).

    For his part, Kozoe approached the commissioning as a secondary film, describing it in interviews as ” A children’s movie Fox wanted us to do quickly.It was not art, but entertainment. The heroine also had this situation, as she explained in a conversation with the Los Angeles Times: “It’s a very ‘camp’ movie. It’s just pure entertainment madness.”.

    Whedon vs. Donald Sutherland

    It was painful to see Wydon team approach his text with some disdain. And he watched it up close, because he was so involved in filming, at least until he decided to distance himself from the movie…due to his enmity towards one of the actors. “I was there almost the entire time filming. In the end, I threw in the towel because I couldn’t be around Donald Sutherland anymore.”You will say years later. “I’ve seen a lot of stupid behavior by actors who were very high and a director who had a different vision than mine, and that was right, it was her movie, but it was frustrating”.

    “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

    Twentieth Century Studios

    As for Sutherland, Whedon described him as “Just an idiot”. “He’d rewrite all his lines, and the director would let him. He can’t write, because he’s not a writer, so the dialogue didn’t make sense. And he had a really bad attitude. He was incredibly rude to the director, rude to everyone around him, and he agonized at rear”.. Ironically, in recent years several of the actors who worked with Whedon, such as Charisma Carpenter, have made similar accusations against him.

    Failed movie, cult series

    What appeared on screen was a movie that never finished. The tune was influenced by teen black comedy like School for Young Killers, but Most of the jokes weren’t funny (the studio removed much of Whedon’s writing because they considered his humor too abstract and appropriate). The direction is flat and imprecise, the editing is sloppy, and the whole is saved by the short length and some good performances (it was Hilary Swank’s first film). Swanson isn’t that bad, but seeing this bare-bones version of the character after meeting the tormented, angry, and sarcastic Buffy of Sarah Michelle Gellar is heart-wrenching.

    “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

    Twentieth Century Studios

    Yes, there are certain flashes in the movie of what we’ll eventually see years later in the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ series. Some of the jokes are pure Whedon (like when Amilyn yells at Scion “Kill him a lot!”) and there’s actually an interesting idea about Buffy wanting to be a normal girl and denying her fate. It also has a feminist message that was not very popular in commercial production, which will be expanded later in the series. “I think the kids will love the fact that Buffy is the hero and Pike is the girl.”thought the actress. “Usually the guy is the one who kills the vampires or beats the bad guys. I think girls will love Buffy being the hero, and I hope it scares the boys.”.

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn’t the box office fail. 20th Century Fox spent a lot of money on advertisements and filled cities with posters hoping to appeal to younger audiences, and as a result the movie grossed over $16 million. It is enough for the studio to recover its investment, but not much more.

    Today, Buffy is one of the clearest examples in modern Hollywood of how a studio can take a good idea and make a bad movie out of it, destroying the very soul of what the book depicted along the way. Five years later, a series was released that would allow Whedon to develop his ideas and would become one of the most respected and studied novels in television history.. In it, Merrick committed suicide and Buffy burned down the high school gym.

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