The movie adaptation of Doom, the popular first-person shooter video game, should have been a slam dunk for all concerned.
Not only did the film boast a rising star in WWE wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson, but, unlike previous video game movie adaptations, Doom appeared ready made for the big screen.
The game’s vague plot – a Space Marine stuck on Mars who is forced to shoot his way through wave after wave of demonic foes – seemed like a pretty simple one to translate to the screen and a far easier task than previous efforts like Super Mario Bros. or Street Fighter.
However, something went wrong along the way– seriously wrong. Doom debuted to bad reviews in October 2005 and ultimately failed to recoup its $60 million budget, despite the presence of a memorable first-person shooter sequence.
After almost a decade of discussion and development a film — and perhaps even potentially a franchise – that promised so much ended up discarded and largely forgotten about… until now.
Who was responsible for the failure of Doom? Could the film have been a success in different circumstances? Why did The Rock end up playing the bad guy is his very own action movie vehicle?
Here are the 16 Things You Never Knew About The Rock’s Failed Doom Movie.
16. Arnold Schwarzenegger Was Once Attached To The Project
A Doom movie had been in the offing since 1995 when the game’s developers, ID Software, reportedly sold the film rights to Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures.
By 1999, plans for the film appeared to be coming together, with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the frame to play the lead role of the game’s unnamed protagonist, known only as “Doom guy” to fans.
However, everything changed in the wake of the Columbine High School tragedy later that same year. It soon emerged that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two senior students responsible for the shootings that left 13 dead and 21 injured, were avid Doom fans.
15. The Rock’s Future Arch-Nemesis Vin Diesel Turned It Down
Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel don’t seem to get on all that well in real life. It might all be part of some clever, social media-led, viral promotion for their Fast & Furious movies, or it might be the case that the two genuinely don’t like each other.
If the latter happens to be true, then it must surely bug Johnson to know that Vin Diesel dodged this Doom-shaped career bullet. The story goes that Vin Diesel was first approached about starring in the 2005 Doom movie but turned down the opportunity to front the film.
The project he ended up making instead? The Pacifier – Vin Diesel’s first and, so far, only foray into the world of family comedy films. It may not be a classic, but it was a lot more successful than Doom…
14. Dwayne Johnson Was Offered The Lead Role But Chose To Be The Villain
When Dwayne Johnson was first handed the script for Doom, producers were keen for the WWE fan favourite to play the film’s main protagonist, Staff Sgt. John “Reaper” Grimm. Johnson had other ideas, though.
“When I first read the script, and read it for [the part of] John, after I read it I thought wow John is a great character and, of course, the hero of the movie,” Johnson explained during an appearance at the 2005 ComiCon [via IGN]. “But for some reason I was drawn more to Sarge, I thought Sarge was, to me, more interesting and had a darker side.”
Johnson agreed to be part of the film but only if he could play the role of Sarge, the leader of the film’s Rapid Response Tactical Squad and a character that essentially ends up becoming the film’s principal villain. The studio relented. It was the project’s first major misstep.
13. Simon Pegg And Edgar Wright Were Approached To Polish The Script
The 2004 British zombie horror comedy Shaun Of The Dead got writer and director team Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright plenty of attention in Hollywood, not least from the studio and producers working on the Doom movie at the time.
After seeing Shaun of the Dead and noting the film’s fresh and witty take on the tried-and-tested zombie genre, Pegg and Wright were approached about coming on board Doom to polish some of the dialogue in David Callaham’s script and give it a more contemporary feel.
According to the DVD commentary that the pair did for Hot Fuzz, they declined the offer and Wesley Strick was subsequently hired in their place. Strick had previously served as a script doctor on films like Batman Returns, Face/Off, and Mission Impossible 2, and was seen as a safe pair of hands by the studio.
12. Rosamund Pike Turned Down Harry Potter For Doom
While plenty of actors, writers, directors and people behind the scenes probably lived to regret their involvement in the Doom movie, few are likely to be as disappointed as Rosamund Pike.
The Gone Girl actress opted to take on the role of Dr. Samantha Grimm over a role in one of the Harry Potter films. Pike was apparently in the frame to play Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire but opted to work on Doom, as scheduling meant she could appear in the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice.
11. It Is Full Of References To The Game That The Rock May Have Missed
Keen to appeal to Doom’s core fan base, the script was stuffed with knowing references to the game. The scientists that feature in the movie, Dr. Todd Carmack and Dr. Willits, are named after Todd Hollenshead, John Carmack, and Tim Willits, the co-owners of ID Software, and developers of the first Doom game and its sequels.
At one point, a beating heart in a jar is spotted – modelled after the ID Software logo – while the BFG (Big F***ing Gun) from the games features and is stored in a locker designated IDKFA, which is a reference to an in-game cheat code. Not that Dwayne Johnson would have known.
Though he insisted that he was a fan of the first game, he also admitted to John Stewart on The Daily Show that it left him feeling “nauseous.” However, he ended up keeping one of the two BFGs created for the film.
10. Dwayne Johnson’s Doom Experience Inspired The John Cena Gif
Have you ever seen that one John Cena gif of him reacting to something a little bit controversial? We’ve got Dwayne Johnson and Doom to thank for that.
Cena’s now-iconic reaction came during Johnson’s 2008 induction into the WWE Hall Of Fame, when The Rock decided to make a wise crack about both his and Cena’s lamentable recent movie efforts.
“There was big controversy with the WWE and illegal torture,” Johnson began “apparently they would find Iraqi insurgents, tie them up and make them watch DVD copies of The Marine.”
It prompted Cena’s memorable look to camera – but Johnson wasn’t finished there. “Listen, I’m only kidding,” he added. “By the way I made Doom. Did you ever see Doom? Well, you probably didn’t and it’s okay because nobody else did either.” The internet owes a debt of gratitude to Doom.
9. There’s A Bizarre Close Encounters Of The Third Kind Reference
Doom’s director, Andrzej Bartkowiak made his name primarily as a cinematographer in Hollywood in the early 1980s. Memorable credits included the Academy Award Best Picture nominees The Verdict, Terms of Endearment, and Prizzi’s Honor.
During the early part of his career, he also developed a close working relationship with filmmaker Sidney Lumet and acted as director of photography on almost all of his movies from 1981 to 1993. He is clearly a man of some considerable taste.
This may all explain why he decided to include a strange homage to Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of The Third Kind in his Doom movie– or something like that anyway.
The telling moment comes when Rosamund Pike’s Samantha Grimm unlocks a door using an electronic keypad. As she enters the code, the five iconic notes played throughout Close Encounters can be heard. Why include this Spielberg tribute? Your guess is as good as ours.
8. Doom’s Director Learned Nothing From His Experience
Given that Doom earned terrible reviews from critics and underwhelmed massively at the box office, you would think that director Andrzej Bartkowiak would have learned something from the whole sorry experience – but it doesn’t seem like he did.
You would have thought, for example, that he would have identified where he went wrong adapting a game for the big screen. You might even have thought he would be put off computer game movie adaptations for life. However, you would be wrong.
Four years after making Doom, Bartkowiak returned to the director’s chair to helm Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It earned even worse reviews and an even more disappointing box office return than Doom. The Polish filmmaker has not directed a single movie since.
7. It Has More In Common With The Expendables Than You Thought
Doom represented screenwriter David Callaham’s first big break in Hollywood. Having moved to Los Angeles with a friend and an ambition to write comedy movies, Callaham ended up landing a job at Creative Artists Agency, where he was able to submit some of his own work.
By late 2003, he had landed the gig writing the script for the Doom film adaptation, with the finished script submitted early in 2005. The script focused on the Rapid Response Tactical Squad sent in to solve a crisis on Mars and this focus on a group of Special Ops-style soldiers would be repeated in Callaham’s next script, Barrow.
That film was written for Warner Bros. and would later serve as the starting point for Sylvester Stallone script for The Expendables. He’s since worked on the 2014 edition of Godzilla and is penning the script for Wonder Woman 2.
6. It Was A Watershed Moment for Writer Wesley Strick
Prior to working on Doom, Strick had carved out a pretty impressive career in Hollywood. He penned the scripts for hugely successful films like Arachnophobia, Cape Fear, Wolf, and The Saint, and later served as script doctor on Batman Returns, Face/Off, and Mission Impossible 2.
However, something changed after Doom. Strick focused less and less on film work, opting to instead focus on writing, penning the novels Out There In The Dark and Whirlybird.
He also continued to work as creative advisor at the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab. He’s written just three films since Doom – the largely overlooked efforts Love Is The Drug and The Loft along with the poorly-received 2012 remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street.
5. The First-Person Shooter Sequence Was Incredibly Tricky To Pull-Off
The Doom movie’s legacy was the film’s first-person shooter sequence. It was the first of its kind and has inspired films like Hardcore Henry and End Of Watch. Jon Farhat, who served as visual effects supervisor on the film, took charge on this particular aspect of the Doom movie.
The sequence, all filmed from the perspective of Karl Urban’s character John, took over three months to plan out and 14 days to shoot the five-minute scene, which was set up to appear as if it were filmed in one continuous take.
There were some issues, though. The panoramic aspect ratio of a standard film differed to a squarer video game screen, making it harder to create the effect of enemies popping up out of nowhere. There were also concerns that the appearance of John’s gun at the bottom of the screen would block out much of the action.
4. The Rapid Response Tactical Squad Went Through Intense Training
Tom McAdams had been in the army for 25 years prior to landing the gig as Doom’s military advisor and had only recently returned from a tour of duty when he arrived on the production.
He was determined to drill the actors playing the film’s Rapid Response Tactical Squad into something approaching the real thing and set up a two-week training camp during rehearsals in Prague.
Days started with 6am gym sessions together, followed by a variety of manoeuvres and exercises covering everything from military manoeuvres and patrol patterns, through to weapon cleaning and safety. It was a worthwhile, if exhausting, experience for Karl Urban.
3. David Callaham’s Original Script Was A Lot More Like The Game
Callaham’s first draft for the Doom movie was more in keeping with the games and featured a variety of demonic foes that would have been familiar to fans of the first-person shooter.
These included the “Spider Skullington,” an “obscene female demon,” a “Cacodemon,” and a version of the game’s “Arch-Vile” that included insect-like legs. Each of these monsters was described in striking detail in the script and would have been terrifying if they had been brought to the screen.
Unfortunately, a lack of time, budget, and the necessary effects technology to bring these vivid monsters to life meant the majority were omitted from the shooting script for Doom in favor of more generic, zombie-style, mutated monsters.
2. The Creator Of Doom Actually Liked The Movie
Doom scored a stinking 19% rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes but one guy who appreciated Dwayne Johnson and Karl Urban’s efforts was John Carmack, one of the creators of the Doom game franchise.
Unlike Ed Boon, the co-creator of the Mortal Kombat games, who considered the movie sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation to be the undoubted low point of the franchise, Carmack felt differently.
“I intentionally stayed completely out of the process, so I was able to get a fair first impression at the theatre,” he explained in an interview with Kikizo.
1. The Doom Set Was A Pretty Testosterone-Fuelled Environment
With much of the film’s Rapid Response Tactical Squad tasked with training together in the on-set gym, things ended up getting pretty competitive. These sessions were about bonding and motivating the cast but also created a locker room atmosphere that co-star Rosamund Pike saw first-hand.
During an interview to promote the movie, Pike jokingly recalled how the male cast members got weirdly competitive about who had the biggest gun on the film.
According to Pike, it fast became “this weird sexual prowess thing” and that she insisted that “all their guns were pretty.” It’s worth noting, at this point, that Johnson partly chose to play the role of Sarge because it gave him a chance to fire the film’s BFG.
He even ended up taking home one of the working BFGs as a keepsake at the end of the movie. He seems to go to the gym a lot more now too.
Did we forget anything else about Doom? Have your say in the comment box!
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