Punisher: War Zone was a movie loved by Patton Oswalt but not so much by me, yet I still like director Lexi Alexander and how much of a great sport she is. The Oscar-nominated director (no, really) once again displayed the same candor in an interview with Les InRockuptibles posted to her blog. She talks about her regret that Lionsgate was calling the shots instead of Marvel, because Marvel’s studio notes were nearly always better than those from Lionsgate execs.
“My relationship with [Marvel] was different than those of the other filmmakers they work with because Lionsgate had the rights to Punisher and paid for the movie. Marvel was an equal partner, but unfortunately when there were creative decision conflicts, Marvel would let Lionsgate be the tie breaker. I always regretted that I made a Marvel movie this way, because 99% of their notes were much better than the studios and I was more in tune with them.”
We’d say “shots fired”, but this is Punisher: War Zone we’re talking about, so maybe it should be “187 shots consecutively fired into one person, filmed in close-up, and the sound editing doesn’t match”.
She’s discussed some of the problems she had with Lionsgate while she was a guest on the “How Did This Get Made?” podcast. The interesting reveals made during the podcast include an anecdote about an unnamed studio exec who made her audition Freddie Prinze, Jr., for the role of Jigsaw. The same exec told her later that she couldn’t actually hire him, no matter how good his audition was.
She also elaborated on how Lionsgate bungled the promotion of the movie while screening it for critics. She suggested giving critics a one sheet with panels from Punisher comics, showing panels which coincided with scenes from the movie to give a sense of the true-to-the-comic, over-the-top cartoonish violence critics were about to see on screen. She says a studio exec shot that idea down as being completely unnecessary, even though they had moved the film into a December release date when critics would be expecting to see serious dramas and art films.
She was right about the one sheet idea, but then again, she also said Freddie Prinze, Jr., had a great audition for Jigsaw, so we don’t know who to believe.