Supernova Preview

We flash back to the year 2000….

Rich and Poe were just a couple of rad dudez. They got their bubblegum a-poppin’, their cargo shorts a-baggin’, and their frosted tips a-glistenin’. Despite the heat of the bayou they are rocking their dopest threads: matching denim jackets. The world is their oyster and they are on a mission with their two best friends, Ernie and Jellyroll. A mission for love. That’s right, the big L-O-V-E. That’s because the megahit sensation B*Witched is coming through Rabideaux and they just gotta score some tix. “Man, think about it, four of them, four of us. It’s destiny!” Young Rich exclaims excitedly. Jellyroll laughs nervously while eating a candy bar and Ernie trips on a root, nearly breaking his glasses. Young Poe rolls his eyes, but he’s also excited. B*Witched is in town and love is in the air. “Rich?” he asks, “how do you think I’ll know when I’m in love?” Young Rich puts his arm around his buddy and lays it out there. “First you’ll feel like a spooky ghost has possessed you,” he says. Ernie and Jellyroll gape in disbelief. “Then you’ll sweat all over like you just scored a winning touchdown,” Young Poe nods in understanding. “Finally,” Young Rich pronounces, “you’ll woo her with your most bodacious dance move. If she doesn’t like it, then you’ll know she’s not the one.” At that Jellyroll proceeds to pull up his shirt and do his patented Jellyroll Bellyroll and they laugh and laugh. 

Poe closes his diary ready to bust a move. Unfortunately, while he was reading the puzzle box went from a portal to a full blown supernova. And Rich and his robot loves are nowhere to be seen! That can’t be a good sign. That’s right! We’re watching Supernova starring James Spader. It’s basically Hellraiser in space… wait, didn’t we just watch this? No? But I could’ve sworn… Let’s go!

Supernova (2000) – BMeTric: 58.0; Notability: 51 

(Impressively low rating there, you might think this is the kind of film which would get a cult following, but clearly the film is bad enough that that isn’t happening. Also this is, I think, the first 50+ notability film in a long while. Turns out that is rare. I should do a full analysis again for all qualifying films … actually, you know what I’m going to go do that right now … alright, 25% of BMT films are above 50 notability and around 21% of all qualified films fit the bill. So you’d kind of expect that at least a fifth of 2020 films would have 50+. This is the sixth of the year which is just about right (17%, so a little below expectations), although I was also right, this is the first 50+ film since April so it has been over three months straight of smaller films. Well, that was fun, good talk.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Alan Smithee gets competition that neither he nor the industry needs; [Thomas] Lee is a pseudonym for director Walter Hill, who took his name off this costly but listlessly derivative space adventure. Story deals with a hospital ship rescuing a battered freighter that has sent out a distress call in “black hole” territory. Spader and Phillips are so pumped up that you wonder where they’re getting the celestial weightroom time.

(Huh, this is in actuality one of only like five or six major films to use a non-Smithee pseudonym in the brief moment around 2000 where people decided that the Smithee pseudonym had been played out. Weird that the sole complaint here is that it is derivative.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUdy0Cu3f_o/

(Holy shit the music … is this real life? This is apparently the “infamous” trailer in which the film is cut to suggest it is a comedy. It is not. It is a thriller mostly. It is actually not funny at all.)

Directors – Walter Hill – (Known For: The Warriors; 48 Hrs.; Streets of Fire; Bullet to the Head; Red Heat; Southern Comfort; Crossroads; Geronimo: An American Legend; Undisputed; The Driver; The Long Riders; The Streetfighter; Extreme Prejudice; Johnny Handsome; Trespass; Future BMT: Tomboy; Last Man Standing; Brewster’s Millions; BMT: Supernova; Another 48 Hrs.; Wild Bill; Razzie Notes: ; Notes: Went by Thomas Lee, which is a rare non-Smithee pseudonym by a director who disowned their films. Originally attached to Geoffrey Wright, then reshot by Jack Sholder, and re-edited by Francis Ford Coppola, apparently little of Hill’s work actually appears in the theatrical cut.)

Writers – William Malone (story) – (BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Supernova; Notes: Mostly a television director, he directed House on Haunted Hill in 1999. Originally pitched in 1990 as Dead Space, that timeline makes a bit more sense as a Hellraiser in Space concept.)

Daniel Chuba (story) – (Known For: Big Fish & Begonia; BMT: Supernova; Notes:  Founded Hammerhead Productions in 1992 which has worked on visual effects for over 100 films. Studied painting at the University of Michigan.)

David C. Wilson (screenplay) (as David Campbell Wilson) – (Known For: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.; The Perfect Weapon; BMT: Supernova; Notes: The Perfect Weapon is a fun one, a starring vehicle for the little-known martial artist Jeff Speakman. Was also directed by one of the directors of Kickboxer. Just wild stuff.)

Actors – James Spader – (Known For: Avengers: Age of Ultron; Pretty in Pink; Stargate; Secretary; Lincoln; Crash; 2 Days in the Valley; Wall Street; Wolf; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; The Homesman; Less Than Zero; White Palace; Shorts; Baby Boom; Dream Lover; Bad Influence; Bob Roberts; Jack’s Back; The Rachel Papers; Future BMT: The Watcher; Mannequin; Keys to Tulsa; Tuff Turf; BMT: Supernova; Endless Love; Notes: He was a genuine movie star in the 90s although he is now more known for his many starring television roles (Boston Legal and The Blacklist most notably). He’s won three Emmys for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.)

Peter Facinelli – (Known For: Twilight; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2; The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; Can’t Hardly Wait; The Scorpion King; Riding in Cars with Boys; Hitman Redemption; Walter; The Big Kahuna; Dancer, Texas Pop. 81; Future BMT: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1; Gallows Hill; Running with the Devil; Freezer; Finding Amanda; The Wilde Wedding; Foxfire; Loosies; Telling You; BMT: The Twilight Saga: New Moon; Supernova; Countdown; Notes: Seems to do mostly guest spots on television shows and supporting roles on non-theatrical releases these days. Was the asshole boyfriend in Can’t Hardly Wait. Was married to Jennie Garth aka Kelly from 90210.)

Robin Tunney – (Known For: Horse Girl; The Craft; Hollywoodland; Vertical Limit; Monster Party; The Secret Lives of Dentists; Niagara, Niagara; Future BMT: Looking Glass; End of Days; Encino Man; The In-Laws; The Zodiac; Paparazzi; August; The Darwin Awards; Empire Records; The Burning Plain; My All-American; BMT: Supernova; Notes: Probably most well known now for her starring role in The Mentalist. She was also in the first (and only good) season of Prison Break.)

Budget/Gross – $90,000,000 / Domestic: $14,230,455 (Worldwide: $14,828,081)

(Holy shit that is catastrophic. I can’t remember the last time I saw a return that negative … I would usually make a joke about Supernova 2: Origins or something, but that genuinely makes me sad.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (6/61): This is an insult to the Sci-fi genre with no excitement and bad FX.

(Yep, basically everyone is quite perplexed by how dull the film is, and how it manages to say a whole lot of nothing for the entirety of the runtime. Reviewer Highlight: Appears headed for a deep-space rendezvous with audience indifference. – Godfrey Cheshire, Variety)

Poster – Super Duper Nova

(Egad, that’s like… well, like I made it. It’s terrible. I like the blue and I like that they went kooky with the font (almost too kooky, I thought for a second they had misspelled January, but the font was just confusing me). But there is A LOT going on here and most of it is not good. Feels like a poster for a film that they gave up on. C)

Tagline(s) – All hell is about to break loose (D)

(I feel like I do have to start being harsher for taglines like this. Sure it’s short and tells me about the film… but also, it’s generic and shows a real lack of creativity. There was no value added.)

Keyword – outer space

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Interstellar (2014), Ad Astra (2019), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Spaceballs (1987), SpaceCamp (1986), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Future BMT: 68.7 Supergirl (1984), 66.8 Thunderbirds (2004), 63.9 Underdog (2007), 59.6 Virus (1999), 59.2 Space Chimps (2008), 58.7 Apollo 18 (2011), 58.2 Deck the Halls (2006), 56.9 Suburban Commando (1991), 55.0 Coneheads (1993), 53.6 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995);

BMT: Battlefield Earth (2000), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019), Event Horizon (1997), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Armageddon (1998), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), The Predator (2018), Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), Masters of the Universe (1987), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Geostorm (2017), Gods of Egypt (2016), Howard: A New Breed of Hero (1986), Battleship (2012), Doom (2005), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), After Earth (2013), The Space Between Us (2017), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Lost in Space (1998), Jason X (2001), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Mac and Me (1988), Soldier (1998), Ghosts of Mars (2001), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), Species II (1998), Supernova (2000), Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996), Pluto Nash (2002), Critters 2 (1988), Wing Commander (1999)

(I think somewhere around Empire Strikes Back people started realizing they couldn’t halfass space films anymore, and then somewhere around 1996 people thought “hey … can we do these things on the cheap with CGI now?”. Otherwise the graphic seems to state the obvious: people like space films. I can’t wait to watch Virus, it has been on the BMT shortlist for ages.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 18) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Robert Forster is No. 3 billed in Supernova and No. 8 billed in Firewall, which also stars Harrison Ford (No. 1 billed) who is in Hollywood Homicide (No. 1 billed), which also stars Josh Hartnett (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 3 billed) => 3 + 8 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 18. If we were to watch The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 15.

Notes – Walter Hill said in interview some years after the movie was released that his version was much darker, had a very different setup and that the ending was much different from the final cut. He also expressed strong dislike for the way studio ruined the movie but he said that James Spader did a great job with his role.

Four different endings were filmed.

This was the first post-Alan Smithee film. For many years, a director who for whatever reason wished not to be credited for a movie and disassociate themselves from it, would have their name replaced with the fake name “Alan Smithee”. After the film An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997), the name was too well known, and so the Director’s Guild of America decided to replace the name “Alan Smithee” with the name “Thomas Lee”. (They would eventually return to Smithee, probably because they realized people would figure out it was a pseudonym regardless due to the trades)

According to Walter Hill, problems began when he did a rewrite of the script, not knowing that the president of United Artists (Lindsay Doran) was very attached to the script. He also said that the budget of the film was cut halfway through production.

Tommy Malone originally pitched the film in 1990. He envisioned it as a modestly budgeted film which would cost around $5-6 million and be like “Dead Calm (1989) in space”. (Wait a tick … on Wikipedia it says he pitched it as Dead Calm in space! Now that makes a whole lot more sense, because that is what is mentioned on TV Tropes when I tried to figure out a horror corollary! I was supremely confused by the Hellraiser bit while watching the film).

Many promotional stills show lots of deleted scenes which were not included in deleted scenes section on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the movie. These include; * Kaela and Danika dressing up the Flyboy robot. * Nick investigating the Titan mining colony and more areas of it. * Nick finding more cocooned dead bodies of miners and examining them. * Karl’s original monster-like look.

The original script was about a space expedition that discovers artefacts from an alien civilisation and brings them back to Earth; one of the artefacts unleashes an evil force. Tommy Malone and producer Ash R. Shah asked H.R. Giger to produce some conceptual sketches to help promote the script. (Now that sounds like Hellraiser in space. I wonder if they changed it up a bit once Giger produced the drawings.)

The infamous theatrical trailer, featuring songs “Fly” by Sugar Ray and “Momma Told Me Not To Come” by Three Dog Night, shows many alternate takes of some scenes, extended versions of some others, parts of few deleted scenes including the one where Nick finds real Troy on the Titan moon turned into fetus and Troy begging Nick to help him, and couple shots of original ending where Karl is killed by dimensional jump. (It is insane!)

The film takes place in 2101.

Due to the troubled production, James Spader disowned the film and expressed his regret in participating, citing this film as the one in his career that people should avoid.

Walter Hill, having grown frustrated with the studio interference, walked out of the film production midway and refused to be involved with the reshoots. Francis Ford Coppola stepped in to direct some reshoots before he also walked out, and Jack Sholder came aboard to finish directing the reshoots and oversee the final edit. The latter two remained uncredited as directors, with Hill receiving sole director’s credit under the pseudonym “Thomas Lee.”

Originally, main villain Karl transformed into a demon-like monster during the final part of the movie. Although much time and effort was spent on special make up effects for these scenes, MGM decided that they didn’t like that because they “couldn’t see the actor”, so all the creature footage was cut and re-shot with Karl being only partially transformed in the final cut.

Dialogue by ship’s computer Sweetie in theatrical ending where it tells Nick and Kaela that Supernova will either destroy Earth or make it and humankind better and that Kaela is pregnant was added later in post production during one of the re-editings of the movie, most probably during the one supervised by Francis Ford Coppola. Original dialogue only said that Supernova will destroy Earth in 257 years and that it’s unstoppable. (That is a wild ending)

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