A casual viewer of the film-making industry might well be forgiven for thinking that Hollywood is in the midst of something akin to a meltdown or a mid-life crisis.
While films like the Avengers, and The Hunger Games have done spectacularly well and helped bump things out of a downward trend - even the hugely disappointing Prometheus doing very well at the box-office for an 'R' rated movie stateside - a host of other projects are not exactly helping the cause. In April, Universal pulled 47 Ronin, the samurai-themed film starring Keanu Reeves from its expected late 2012 debut, deciding to launch it early in 2013. It stirred up rumours of a "chaotic shoot" according to the Hollywood Reporter and concerns it was being dumped into a traditionally barren area of the release schedules. A few months ago, Paramount also moved Hansel & Gretel (a distinctly more action-orientated telling of the fairy-tale) into 2013. Even more recently, the same studio dramatically pulled GI Joe: Retaliation from the summer schedules mere weeks before the due date, claiming that the reason was a decision to turn it into a 3D outing. With toys en route to shops and a marketing campaign that was already in full swing (SuperBowl spots don't come cheap), it soon became clear from indsutry sources (including a tweet from one of the stars Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson himself, that there was a bit more to it than that. Johnson confirmed there'd be some additional filming to be done and it was revealed that test-audiences had not taken kindly to seeing one of the big-name cast killed off early in the film. Expect Retalliation to have some extra resurrection in it before its new February 2013 debut.
News came this week that another big movie appears to be having problems. The zombie apocaypse film starring Brad Pitt, World War Z ( yes, another Paramount release), which shot some sequences in Glasgow last year, appears to be having a bad braaaaaainstorm with its original December 2012 release date now moved firmly until the middle of 2013. Damon Lindelof (the audience-dividing writer behind Lost and Prometheus) has been brought on to restructure the entire third act and serious reshoots are apparently inevitable. The Hollywood Reporter lays the problems with 'Z' as a rumoured clash between Marc Forster (director of The Kite Runner and Finding Neverland, but not known for handling big blockbusters except Quantum of Solace, which got middling reviews) wanting to bring on his usual team (and being blocked from doing that) and not enough important creative decisions being made before original filming commenced. The delay to 2013 was announced in March, but there's been little in the way of solid, positive news since.
This week, the rolling ball of doomsaying has made its way through production on The Lone Ranger. The film had had its original start-date put back due to huge concerns over its budget ballooning to around $250 million. It finally went into production with Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp (as the Lone Ranger and Tonto respectively) and director Gore Verbinski all taking pay-cuts and losing some key action sequences to bring the budget down. However there now seems to be concerns that the film's production may be rising again and that its 120 day shooting schedule (begun in February) is also expanding due to previous bad weather delays. However at this point, Disney still hopes to make the scheduled July 3rd 2013 release.
The truth is that Hollywood productions rarely run smoothly - delays and hiccups are more common than some might think, however they are rarely as public as the recent swathe of problems on these key releases.
The flipside, of course, is that the traditionally quiet time between the end of January and the end of April - when the business is more concentrated on receiving awards than actually getting top-notch films out to the screens - may well find itself very busy early in 2013. The bigger question is, with so many delays, budgets and story-concerns all in the news, will the results be worth waiting for or not? Will the MIA actually be DOA?