Hollywood movies aren’t just being made by committee these days — they’re being made by their audience.
Recently, instantaneous social-media backlash against innocent movie trailers has led production teams to bow to the immense pressure and make significant changes to their films to keep potential ticket buyers happy.
Here are some films that were forced to course correct.
“Sonic the Hedgehog“
When the movie trailer for “Sonic” dropped in April 2019, there was a tidal wave of criticism from fans. His eyes are too small! He has a creepy full set of human teeth! Some even called it “nightmare fuel.” The response was so massive that three days later, director Jeff Fowler announced the film would be delayed to fully redesign the character. “Thank you for the support. And the criticism,” Fowler tweeted, like he was talking to an advisory board rather than fans. “The message is loud and clear … you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen.” It did.
It was the trailer heard ‘round the world. When we got our first glimpse of the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” in July 2019, millions of Twitter users were appalled and terrified. The loud response to the creepy look of Judi Dench, Idris Elba and more clad in “digital fur,” reports say, caused the effects artists to tinker the original design of the Jellicle cats. One producer called them “subtle changes.” Even that wasn’t enough, though, and days after the movie was released to a critical pummeling on Dec. 20, Universal sent out a new version of the film with updated effects. The update did not make the box office go up.
You never had a friend like him! That’s how fans felt when they watched the first trailer of “Aladdin” in February 2019, with Will Smith’s kooky-looking genie, responding with ridicule online. In that trailer and several clips later shown at CinemaCon, the special effects were not totally complete yet, and it showed. While director Guy Ritchie’s team didn’t totally go back to the drawing board, there was a fire under them to get it right by the May release date. “I came up in an era where there was no internet,” Smith said at the time. “It’s a new thing that I’m trying to get a handle on.”