1. July 24, 2008: PWZ producer Gale Anne Hurd announced at Comic-Con that director Lexi Alexander had gotten married to the film’s first assistant director and did not attend as she was on her honeymoon.
2. July 25, 2008: AICN’s Harry Knowles claimed that a LGF insider he’d known for years (“Jigsaw”) contacted him out of “sheer frustration” to say” Lexi was NOT on her honeymoon and had missed Comic-Con because she had been fired; she couldn’t say anything because she was wrapped up in a non-disclosure clause; and LGF had jettisoned Lexi’s composer and was going to market the film with a hard rock soundtrack instead of an orchestral score. On the same day, Lexi Alexander wiped her blog of all mention of PWZ and replaced it with a picture of the see/hear/speak no evil monkeys, which seemed to confirm she’d at least been gagged.
3. July 28, 2008: FilmSchoolRejects’ Neil Miller pursued LGF for confirmation of the AICN rumors, and finally a “reliable source close to the production” said: Lexi was not fired but she has been “pulled away” from the project; Lexi had turned in a cut for the first trailer that LGF hadn’t liked, and her response was “childish” and “unpredictably erratic”; producer Gale Anne Hurd brought in the Hulk editors to recut the film and make it “more presentable” for its release on December 5; if the production cannot “be salvaged” it could lead to a “limited [theater] release and a bigger DVD release”. In the comments section, PWZ crew member Tom Book defended Lexi as a loyal inspiring “tough cookie” who had been essentially abandoned by producer Gale Anne Hurd during the brutal winter production in Montreal, and that “a bunch of us have seen her cut and are aware of the changes the studio wants to make and trust me, no Punisher fan would agree with those changes.” Lexi’s “Hooligans” co-writer Dougie Brimson responded to Tom Book that Lexi was “disloyal” and “devious”, adding “trust me, I’m far from alone in thinking that way”!
4. July 29, 2008: UGO’s Dr. Know claimed they received a call from an LGF inside source (“Detective Soap”) who said: trouble between LGF and Lexi started months ago when LGF sent her some publicity materials for her approval that she put up on her blog, and when they asked her to remove them she went “a little bananas” and claimed this was “unfair and stifling censorship”; Lexi is like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”; Lexi really had been on her honeymoon during Comic-Con but though she knew the date plenty in advance had not bothered to change her plans; Lexi’s raw footage was fantastic; Lexi was new to working with a large studio and may not have been prepared for the lesser control over the finished product; PWZ had not been completely taken out of her hands but she was still a consultant and involved in further decision-making. CHUD’s Devin Faraci called bullsh*t UGO’s source, saying that “it’s news [in Hollywood] when someone is NICE to work with” and that UGO had painted her as “one step away from saying she had bad PMS”.
5. July 30, 2008: IESB’s Robert Sanchez claimed their own Lionsgate insider said: Lexi’s first cut which was shown to the studio was “unwatchable,” “unreleasable”, “one of the worst movies ever made”, and “Dolph Lundgren’s 1989 Punisher is a masterpiece compared to this outing”. (My note: This from an Oscar-nominated director?? I don’t think so. Sounds personal though!) On the same day, Lexi finally made a new post to her blog in which she sounded bitter about “the vicious cyber world” and mean people; she thanked people who were loyal to her, implying there were others who were NOT; she implied things had not gone smoothly in Hollywood and she’d moved on; and that she was excited about working on a new project with her former “Green Street Hooligans” producer Deborah del Prete.
6. August 1, 2008 (approx.): IMDB.com’s PWZ running time was updated to a running time of 87 minutes, fueling fan fears that “Lexi’s film was being butchered by Gale Anne Hurd”. In addition, Lionsgate’s “Midnight Meat Train”, a hardcore bloody violent horror film based on a story by Clive Barker, premiered in about 100 dollar theaters instead of wide release as had been hoped for by horror fans, a decision apparently made by new LGF COO Joe Drake. Rumors swirled that Drake was “dumping” the films made by his predecessor out of spite; Punisher fans feared this fate might befall PWZ too. Also, somewhere along the way IMDB was updated to show that Charlie Clouser had succeeded Lexi’s preferred composer Christopher Franke, then the composer was removed altogether. UpcomingFilmScores then reported that the new composer was Michael Wandmacher. When his source was questioned, the author wrote: “It was confirmed by his agency, Evolution Music Partners. Contrary to all the rumors going around on the net, which are ALL false, no other composer has been attached to this project save for Lexi’s original composer, Chris Franke. And the score is an orchestral/electronic hybrid. There’s no “heavy metal” in it.”
7. August 4, 2008: PWZ producer Gale Anne Hurd was alerted to some scathing posts about her on IMDB’s PWZ message boards and was confused by the hostility. In a private email she said: PWZ will NOT have a hard rock score but an orchestral score as the film deserves, and Lionsgate had NOT posted the 87-minute running time to IMDB because that wasn’t true. She even wondered if a rival studio were trying to give PWZ bad publicity by providing IMDB the bogus run time.
8. August 14, 2008: Latino Review’s George Roush claimed a source “deep within the bowels of Hollywood and close to the Punisher: War Zone project” contacted him to say: “the big fight over the Punisher project is Lionsgate wants a PG-13 cut to be released”, presumably with hopes of emulating the success of the PG-13 “The Dark Knight”. FilmSchoolRejects’ Robert Fure called bulls*** on Latino Review and tracked down their own source who is “close to the production” and whom he trusts completely, who said: PWZ will definitely be rated R.
9. August 16, 2008: PWZ cinematographer Steve Gainer posted on Tim Bradstreet / Thomas Jane’s Raw Studios message board that: Lexi is not off the film, is still “steering the boat”, is still involved in the edit process, did in fact get married; he saw a cut of PWZ that day that ran 91 minutes (my note: that’s only 4 minutes longer than the rumored 87 minutes from IMDB but still a standard length for a feature film); PWZ will be rated R and will be released in theaters on December 5, 2008. Based on Steve’s post, AICN and Latino Review published clarifications.
Well there you have it. I wanted to get this out to you ASAP. What an unbelievably sordid mess… The sad part of it is, that in the end I have a feeling this will end up being about a fairly unremarkable film – a tempest in a teapot.
Punisher: War Zone opens on December 5th.