Despite the infamy of its "final girls," the horror genre has relatively male-oriented for many years. Hoping to change up the norm, screenwriter Diablo Cody penned the female-empowered dark comedy Jennifer’s Body. Combining the aspects of the horror movies with the lighthearted humor of a teen comedy, Cody created a unique take on the dark side of female friendships.
Although the film boasted a female-dominated cast (Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried) and female director (Karyn Kusama), the marketing of the film suffered from a male-focused marketing scheme. Even from its teaser presented at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2009, the trailers and promotions focused on a brief physical relationship between the two girls. Although Cody and Kusama promoted the film to be so much more than its marketing, the final movie seemed to be judged based on not meeting the audiences’ false expectations. Though the movie became a lukewarm success at the box office, Jennifer's Body has found new life on cable TV and subsequent DVD sales. Fans have touted their love for the film, helping it reach a new cult status within the horror genre.
As we delve into the details of the making of Jennifer’s Body, we hope to shed more light on not just the creation of the film but its real focus and intended themes. This movie is more than your average “cheerleader turned demon” teen horror movie.
From its original connections to its newfound legacy, here are 20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of Jennifer’s Body.
20 Blake Lively Almost Played Jennifer
Before her lead role on the CW’s Gossip Girl, Blake Lively began her acting career on the big screen. Her performance in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants launched her career, making her a new breakout start to watch. Her notable onscreen performances led to her most prominent role to date: playing Serena van der Woodsen. The part helped to boost her popularity significantly, leading her to return to movie roles.
Surprisingly, Lively almost took a major turn from her usual roles to play one that would be a bit darker. Granted, Gossip Girl overflowed with scandals and drama but playing the lead as a demon would certainly catch some attention. Though initially considered for the role in Jennifer’s Body, Lively had to turn it down due to filming conflicts with Gossip Girl.
19 Director Karyn Kusama didn’t know who Megan Fox was
For any film to be a success, the casting directors have to find the best talents to portray the characters onscreen. Whether the stars are well-known or talented newbies, the casting of the film plays an integral part in the overall success. For the role of Jennifer Check, producers looked for a popular young actress.
With Lively turning down the role, casting turned to Transformers actress Megan Fox.
Although she became quite popular thanks to the Transformers movie, Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama had no idea who she was. She told with Coming Soon, “Megan was attached when I read the script and I actually knew nothing about her. I had not seen Transformers in the theater and had chosen not to do that.” Whoops!
18 Megan Fox's extreme transformation for the role
Actress Megan Fox maintained a relatively low-key acting career in the beginning. On television, she played guest roles on What I Like About You and Two and a Half Men before securing a regular role on Hope & Faith. On film, she did teen comedies, like her role as Carla Santini in Confesssions of a Teenage Drama Queen. However, her stardom skyrocketed with Transformers” She became well-known for her stunning looks and body, with her image plastered on magazines across the country.
However, for her role in Jennifer’s Body, Fox decided to get prepared for the part with a drastic weight change. Although usually curvy, she dropped to 97 lbs. to prepare for her role. Fans were happy to hear she regained the weight for the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen sequel.
17 IT was supposed to be way darker
The original focus of Jennifer’s Body leaned more toward the horror genre. The plot itself, surrounding a teen girl being possessed by a demon, could have been expected to take the scarier route similar to The Exorcist. However, Cody found that the more time she invested in the scripting, the more the plot shifts into a new director.
In an interview with Coming Soon, she said, “When I first set out to write this, I intended to write something very dark, very brooding, a traditional slasher movie, and then I realized about a third of the way into the process I was incapable of doing that because the humor just kept sneaking in. I have a macabre sense of humor.” With the newly found humor in the plot, she then included more dark comedy elements to the script.
16 The Kiss Wasn't A Publicity Stunt
When recalling the original promotions for the movie, many audiences may remember the kissing scene between Jennifer and Needy being featured. Although the studio felt the need to promote this scene to entice audiences to see the movie, the scene itself held more meaning. As reported by The Frisky, Cody had no intentions for the scene to be a publicity stunt.
She stated, “It was intended to be something profound and meaningful to me and to Karyn [Kusama, the director]. There is a [physical] energy between the girls which is kind of authentic, because I know when I was a teenaged girl, the friendships that I had with other girls were almost romantic, they were so intense…I wanted to capture that heightened feeling you get as an adolescent that you don’t really feel as a grownup.”
15 The Practical Effects
The production team of Jennifer’s Body decided to take a different route for their special effects to transform Fox into a man-eating demon. Their team decided to move away from numerous CGI effects and incorporate more tactile sources for their effects.
For example, the “black vomit” scene utilized chocolate syrup for the effect.
Fox recalled, “We did a few takes where I would just do this scream and sort of puke Hershey's chocolate syrup. … And then, special effects did a rig that clamps onto my ear and you revisit it in the pool scene..."She further detailed that the device “clips on. It goes around the back of my ear and then I bite down on it on the side of my face, like this, and it projectiles. It's a tube...” Very creative!
14 The movie was made into a musical
Over the years, Jennifer’s Body has gained in popularity with fans, bringing it to an admirable cult status. The dark humor, witty dialogue, and female-driven cast has led the film to new audiences, and future fans. In particular, the movie found new life on Broadway.
The film has been made into an authorized musical aptly titled Jennifer's Body: The Unauthorized Musical From Hell.
The musical, which began its run back in March of 2018, the cast included Pitch Perfect’s Shelley Regner, former Glee star Lindsay Pearce, and Matt Shively (from The Real O'Neals). It ran throughout the month of March at El Cid in Los Angeles. The adaptation was created by Jordan Ross, who has also created musical versions of The OC and Cruel Intentions.
13 The screenplay was Blacklisted
One of the hardest steps to making a movie in Hollywood is getting someone else to believe in your dream. You might have the best writers, the best producers, and a great cast in mind, but without the right studio to finance you, there's nowhere to go. Many writers suffer from having their scripts passed from studio to studio with no takers. Though the process itself has become the norm in the movie industry, some members of the inner circle have taken to bringing attention to those exceptional “homeless” scripts.
The Blacklist prides itself in highlighting some of the best scripts available that have yet to be made.
In 2007, the script for Jennifer’s Body was included alongside Zombieland, World War Z, and The Wolf of Wall Street.
12 The canceled sequel
Before the critics had gotten to view the film, plans were in place to build Jennifer’s Body into a possible franchise. With its unique premise and confident production team, early talk occurred surrounding a possible sequel. Originally reported by Fearnet, Kusama revealed the film could have had a continuation based on the film’s original plot.
She stated, “ We actually just had a very brief exchange about this topic while we were in Toronto. If there was a way to make a sequel that was as fascinating and strange as the first movie, I personally would be interested.” Sadly, the harsh criticisms and low box office profits of the original film have nixed the possibility of a sequel.
11 There Was A Jennifer's Body Graphic Novel about her victims
Besides the sequel, the production team for Jennifer’s Body had other plans to expand the universe of the film. One of the ventures included a tie-in comic book for the franchise. In an interview with Atomic Comics, creators Rick Spears, Tim Seeley, and Jim Mahfood gave more details about the publication.
Spears explained, “The book is a tie-in, not a direct adaptation of the movie. So in the comic we take a closer look at some of Jennifer’s many victims. We get to meet these guys and see more of their lives before they are ultimately dispatched. And with comics we can get into the character’s heads in a way that works well in comics and novels more so than in film.” Each story followed a different victim and provide their backstory prior to their final consumption.
10 Courtney Love Hated The Movie's Title
Jennifer’s Body ran into a unique conflict when Hole singer Courtney Love took to social media to vent about the film. The title of the film took its name from their song “Jennifer’s Body”, a track off of their 1994 album Live Through This. However, the song itself did not appear on the album nor was the song credited for the movie’s title.
Although their song “Violet” was used for the ending credits, the lead singer was not satisfied.
Love took to Twitter to engage in a very long rant with, well, everyone!. Her original tweet set off the conversation, stating that Hole has never been mentioned by Diablo Cody at all-- even though she provided a “song and a title for 10 cents.” Yikes!
9 Adam Brody blamed the film's failure on marketing
After the film’s lackluster debut, star Adam Brody voiced his concerns about the promotions for the film. As reported by Vulture, he said, “I don’t know what happened, and I don’t know if anything could have changed anything, or if that was the path it was going down no matter what… I’m happy people are finding it on cable or wherever they’re finding it. But I do think it should win a Razzie for Worst Ad Campaign Ever. Seriously… It was such a good opportunity for a cool trailer or poster, and it was like a Goosebumps, R.L. Stine poster.”
In the end, the film, although made to expand on previous notions of male-driven horror stories, was still marketed at a male audience.
8 The Film Is A Follow-Up To Juno
The independent movie Juno certainly took audiences and critics by surprise. Filled with witty dialogue, relatable characters, and an outstanding cast, the film became one of the indie hits of 2007. The film went on to earn numerous award nominations, including four from the Academy Awards. Screenplay writer Diablo Cody even won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
The partnership between Cody and Juno director Jason Reitman proved to be so profitable that they re-joined forces later on.
Jennifer’s Body became their follow up project after Juno. Cody resumed her role as a writer for the film with Reitman taking on the producer position. Considering the success of Juno, expectations were high for the team to duplicate the success of the first film for Jennifer’s Body.
7 The Crazy Marketing Tactics That Were Dropped
Although the film has continued to grow as a cult classic, the production team still have regrets about how the film performed originally in theaters. In a 2016 interview with The New York Times, director Karyn Kusama shared how “the marketing department wanted Megan [Fox, star of “Jennifer’s Body”] to do live chats with amateur [adult performance] sites, and I was like, ‘I’m begging you not to go to her with this idea, she will become so dispirited.’ It was fascinating to have the writer be female, the director be female, the stars be female, and my head executive be female, and then we get to the top of the mountain, all those [male] marketing people. It was crushing.”
Thankfully, fans of the film have discovered the movie thanks to cable broadcasting and DVD releases.
6 Reviews of the movie were split based on gender
Another interesting aspect about the release of the movie lies with how the film was critiqued. We published an article back in 2009 that revealed the individual reviews of the movie critics split based on their gender. Writer Vic Holtreman revealed that “there were many more reviews by men (77) than women (26)… Here's the breakdown: Male movie reviewers: 39% liked it, 61% disliked it. Female movie reviewers: 54% liked it, 46% disliked it.”
The criticisms of the movie were different between the men and women.
Men focused on how the film failed to be “to be both funny and scary” while women spoke about “girl/girl friendships, and particularly on showing just how cruel women can be to each other.” Unfortunately, the film’s success suffered due to the poor marketing and panning by critics overall.
5 Juno Connections
Although these two movies share minimal similarities, quite a few connections exist between Juno and Jennifer’s Body. Looking beyond the Cody/Reitman team-up, the creation of both scripts took place around the same time. As such, the two films share similarities in their dialogue style. Cody explained to Syfy that “I had actually written it a long time ago, when I was kind of in that same mode… So it definitely has that kind of high-school, dialogue-heavy feel to it. But there's also people being [eaten] a lot, so that's changed."
In addition to the similarities in the scripting, the horror film also included several familiar faces from Juno.
These stars included Valeria Tian, Aman Johal, and J.K. Simmons as part of the Jennifer’s Body cast.
4 A Negative Script Review Got Banned
In 2008, two different sites provided their reviews based on the early script, but with varied opinions. Big Ross from CC2K.us found issues with the script and presented a somewhat negative review. AdWeek reported that “Big Ross dwells forever on the language and doesn’t touch the structure, plot, arc, etc., which makes us think this must be an early draft, untouched by any collaborative efforts.”
On the other hand, “Diablo Fan” offered his opinions on the script to The Latin Review in a more positive light-- though he did share some criticisms. However, CC2K.us received a cease and desist order from Fox Searchlight to remove their review from their website. Their site was the only one to review such an order.
3 The movie was widely misunderstood
Although many people discredit Jennifer’s Body as being just another teen horror movie, the film’s underlying themes have often been mistaken.
Though the film stands as a dark-comedy horror movie, the true heart of the film has a more focus in female empowerment.
Cody shared, "(Director) Karyn Kusama and I are both outspoken feminists", she said. "We wanted to subvert the classic horror model of women being terrorized. I want to write roles that service women. I want to tell stories from a female perspective. I want to create good parts for actresses where they're not just accessories to men." In addition to bringing new perspectives to the genre, Cody also explained that “a key reason for writing the film was to bring to the screen a new way of expressing the intensity of female bonds". Interesting…
2 The truth behind Jennifer and Needy's friendship
While writing Juno, Cody used many details from her own life and added it to the script. Although she could not personally relate to the themes of adoption and pregnancy, she did manage to add her own personal elements to the film, including the hamburger phone and a Tic-Tac loving guy from her past. In contrast, the elements of Jennifer’s Body contain very little autobiographical elements of Cody’s own story.
However, Cody does have some emotional connections to the film. Cody shared that “The friendships that I had as an adolescent had this unparalleled intensity… I wanted to show how almost horrific that devotion can be. It’s almost parasitic.” Regarding the characters, Cody felt more of a connection with Needy, explained that “she was never an Alpha female, and I've never gotten off with bullying other people".
1 The film premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival
Many directors have choose to take the film festival route when it comes to movie premieres. Positive buzz can be started at such festivals, leading to early reviews of the movie that positively affect box office performances. Cody’s first film, Juno, appeared at many festivals including Telluride Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation. In fact, the film was included in more than ten additional international film festivals.
Given Cody's experience going this route, it is no surplice that Jennifer’s Body took a similar path with its premiere as well. Audiences and critics got their first glimpses of the film at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. However, as Movieline pointed out, Toronto was “a nation removed from the audience where the film's actual momentum had been accruing for at least a month.” Oops.
Do you have any other trivia to share about Jennifer's Body? Let us know in the comments!