I named Lionsgate my official Loser of Comic Con 2008, and one of the reasons was that while they were trotting out hard R-rated Punisher: War Zone footage, the real buzz was that director Lexi Alexander had been booted from the project. Lexi, who had been hugely interested in reaching out to the fans, was not at the Punisher panel, and her absence was explained away by saying she had just gotten married and was on her honeymoon.
But the rumors continued to swirl. Film School Rejects reported that Lexi Alexander’s blog, which had previously contained some negative entries (including comparing working on the film to being on an episode of the reality show Hell’s Kitchen), has been cleaned out. All that’s left is a picture of three monkeys doing the classic ‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’ pose. The site further reports that Gale Ann Hurd is working on recutting the film, and that the guys who cut all of the Edward Norton stuff from The Incredible Hulk have been tasked with getting the movie ready for December 5th.
UGO, meanwhile, appears to have taken the Lionsgate phallus completely, and their report – which does fill in some blanks – paints Alexander as a bit of an overreactor and says that she’s been removed as director but retained as a consultant simply because she’s tough to work with. This reeks of bullshit since we’re talking about Hollywood – it’s news when someone is nice to work with. The UGO piece also makes me a little uncomfortable with its talk of mood swings – the article seems one step away from saying she had bad PMS or something.
The truth has to lie somewhere in the middle. Being unpleasant to work with has never gotten anyone fired from a movie. It rarely even stops them from getting future jobs. The UGO article fails to mention that the first teaser for the movie was cut without Lexi and released in a way that surprised her, which is not a great sign (and a director being angry about that wouldn’t be overreacting), but it does say that the raw footage looks great. The real problem must be about editing decisions – Harry Knowles has said that the fight began over the studio’s desire to scrap the score and put heavy metal over the movie.
I’m interested to see where this all ends up. I imagine Alexander’s name will stay on the picture, but that she won’t be available when it comes time to do press. If the movie turns out well, Lionsgate may leak more info about how Lexi was taken off the project, while if it does poorly they’ll say it was all her vision. Hollywood, always so wonderfully immature.