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George A. Romero's other Resident Evil scripts still exist!

Ark2000

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I am a huge "Wrong Turn" fan - the first one, the sequels (including the otherwise much-praised Wrong Turn 2) are terrible IMHO. I was one of the few people defending it when everyone else trashed it and I don't even understand why they did so since it was a bona-fide 1970s survival\horror movie in the vein of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "The Hills Have Eyes", "Deliverance" and even early-80s slashers like "Just Before Dawn" made a few years everyone and their brothers started remaking them (maybe that's the reason why). Anyway, my appreciation of that movie alone was more than enough for me to get all hyped at the idea of someday reading that elusive first draft. Who knows? Maybe he didn't understand the material or thought that zombies were too cliché. Or maybe most of his scripts that got made into movies got through the hands of some good script doctors.
From what i can tell you for example, Halloween 4 was all his although he did had to include few bits and pieces from earlier rejected scripts by other writers (scene where several people wear Shape masks, town loses its electrical power, Michael getting shot by bunch of cops in ending...), i guess because Moustapha Akkad told him and director to do that. I never read any draft of Rapid Fire, but other than the title change (Moving Target) i always heard from fans who did read the script how it's basically exactly like the movie, but with some extra scenes. McElroy himself made changes on Wrong Turn once it was picked up, originally his script was titled Blur and it was about bank robber on the run who has to fight against inbred mountain men after he escapes into the woods. But that doesn't mean he sometimes worked better without someone helping him. I read Journey Of Death which he wrote with John Milius, and for a story which was supposed to be another WWE produced film starring Triple H, i remember it wasn't that bad, but i think Milius probably deserves more credit for that one.

I think i mentioned this on other posts, but maybe McElroy just had too much projects to work on while he was writing his Resident Evil script, so he couldn't focus on writing more better first draft. He was working on at least three different comic book adaptations, one of the first scripts for Doom adaptation, re-writing his own script to turn it into Die Hard 4, some of his own specs and maybe even more. If he had more time later to fix up his RE script, i think it's possible his second draft that PSM reviewed was better. Like you said, we already know it did have mansion, zombies, and "normal" zombie dogs, so that's something which could confirm that.

And Hardware, if you're fan of Wrong Turn and similar films, i recommend tracking down John Carpenter's unproduced mid 70's script Prey, i think you'll might like it.
 

Hardware

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And Hardware, if you're fan of Wrong Turn and similar films, i recommend tracking down John Carpenter's unproduced mid 70's script Prey, i think you'll might like it.
The survival\horror movie he wrote as a spec script in the 70s? Is it actually available?
 

Ark2000

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Yeah but damn it, looks like it's not anywhere online. There are only few reviews of it. I think Script Shadow used to have link for it, but i don't know what happened with it. I'd try sending a link myself, but of course, ****ing Google messed something up with my drive, and no matter what i do i can't access it.
 

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I am only seeing reviews (and I already read one several years ago), no pages actually offering it to buy or download.
 

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Early draft of Welcome To Racoon City was actually really good overall, in fact I was shocked by how good it was considering Roberts' previous works, it was maybe second best video-game adaptation ever written after John Logan's Bioshock and obviously much better than any previous RE adaptation, produced or unproduced. It took one-dimensional cartoons and turned them into real human beings with personal stakes, Racoon felt like a real place with its own history and not just scenery. It was like an early John Carpenter's film. I wouldn't blame Roberts for what happened with the final product because he was given a miserable budget to work with (almost twice less (if we consider inflation) than Paul W. S. Anderson's first movie that had much smaller scale) and it affected execution across the board. They had to cut down scale, cut character development, cut action, use cheap CGI and a lot of darkness and close-ups. And they also changed some backstories and motivations for worse, dialogues became noticeably worse and I felt they made wrong emphasis. So Constantin Film is to blame for most of the film's failures, they ruined what could've been a really good film.

McElroy's draft on the other hand sounds absolutely terrible.
 

Ark2000

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Early draft of Welcome To Racoon City was actually really good overall, in fact I was shocked by how good it was considering Roberts' previous works, it was maybe second best video-game adaptation ever written after John Logan's Bioshock and obviously much better than any previous RE adaptation, produced or unproduced. It took one-dimensional cartoons and turned them into real human beings with personal stakes, Racoon felt like a real place with its own history and not just scenery. It was like an early John Carpenter's film. I wouldn't blame Roberts for what happened with the final product because he was given a miserable budget to work with (almost twice less (if we consider inflation) than Paul W. S. Anderson's first movie that had much smaller scale) and it affected execution across the board. They had to cut down scale, cut character development, cut action, use cheap CGI and a lot of darkness and close-ups. And they also changed some backstories and motivations for worse, dialogues became noticeably worse and I felt they made wrong emphasis. So Constantin Film is to blame for most of the film's failures, they ruined what could've been a really good film.

McElroy's draft on the other hand sounds absolutely terrible.
Not the first time i hear that about original script for WTRC. Speaking as someone who didn't mind the film, it did made me think how it looked like scaled down version of what was supposed to be different and longer story, and if this is true, then it explains a lot. It really needed to be full two hours long movie, and it could have used a bigger budget, i think there were reports how it was going to have $40 million but it ended up having $25 million budget.

Early draft of Welcome To Racoon City was actually really good overall, in fact I was shocked by how good it was considering Roberts' previous works, it was maybe second best video-game adaptation ever written after John Logan's Bioshock and obviously much better than any previous RE adaptation, produced or unproduced.
I only skipped through Logan's Bioshock once (i think) year or two ago, but i remember liking it (like lot of other people it seems), and i really should read the full script since i am huge fan of his unproduced I Am Legend script from August of 1997, which i personally think is one of the best unproduced scripts i ever read.
 

Maverick1

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Not the first time i hear that about original script for WTRC. Speaking as someone who didn't mind the film, it did made me think how it looked like scaled down version of what was supposed to be different and longer story, and if this is true, then it explains a lot. It really needed to be full two hours long movie, and it could have used a bigger budget, i think there were reports how it was going to have $40 million but it ended up having $25 million budget.
Exactly. It needed full 2 hour runtime and at least 40 mln budget (better 50). 25 mln (and that probably includes Covid-related expenses), is just extremely low for this movie, it's kind of impressive they even managed to make anything out of this budget.
I only skipped through Logan's Bioshock once (i think) year or two ago, but i remember liking it (like lot of other people it seems), and i really should read the full script since i am huge fan of his unproduced I Am Legend script from August of 1997, which i personally think is one of the best unproduced scripts i ever read.
There are two drafts of Bioshock, shorter one that leaked publicly and longer one that was reviewed by BMD. Longer one is superior, they decided to cut or change many small details in shorter draft that made it worse, especially in one key dramatic moment. But longer version was a great script overall, the only downside is last 2 pages (of both versions), that ending just didn't work and made no sense at all considering what happened in the rest of the script, but weak ending and some logical gaps could be fixed very easily and the rest of the script is probably the best video-game adaptation ever written, such a shame it didn't happen, it could've been an all-timer with great execution.
 
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Bran

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I wouldn't mind reading the early Resident Evil draft.
 

Ark2000

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Me too. And while it probably wasn't much better (based on his Mortal Kombat drafts) i wouldn't mind reading Greg Russo's script. But i think reading what WTRC was supposed to be originally would be more interesting. I keep checking around for info about any leaked drafts, but as far as i know, there are only some rumors and no confirmation.
 

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Unfortunately I'm not allowed to share the script, but I can post differences between early Roberts' draft and the final movie. As far as I remember:
- Claire arrived to Raccoon City just to get her brother out of the dying town, she didn't show him Ben Bertolucci tape and didn't tell him any conspiracy theories, she doesn't know what's going on in Racoon outside of all the weird and scary stuff that she saw when she arrived or when she escaped The Raccoon City Orphanage when she was a kid. She also didn't know Ben Bertolucci personally, Ben was a TV reporter in Raccoon who claimed that Umbrella poisoned water in the city.
- Truck driver tried to sexually assault Clarie, but she quickly "disarmed" him and it didn't go any further. Part of the scene is actually in the film.
- Leon had more character development and kind of a character arc. There was an extra scene when Leon woke up in hangover, his father called him and expressed his disappointment in him after that accident with Leon's partner and that he hopes Leon won't embarass him even more on a new job. Leon was really embarassed he let down his big name father as he watched their family photo from Leon's police academy graduation. He was still kind of comedy relief character, but I thought it worked in the context of the story, he had an underdog hero's journey arc. He's incompetent, but gets better and in the end saves the day by killing mutated Birkin and I guess making his father proud. There was an emphasis on this arc that I felt was missing in the final film.
- Dialogues were noticeably better with a lot less exposition and character names dumps.
- Raccoon felt more developed in the script and there was no exposition text, with bigger emphasis on build up to what's coming.
- Rebecca Chambers and a bunch of other characters had cameos in a caffee instead of Wesker and Jill. One of the cops (not Wesker) tried to make fun of Leon because of his backstory with shooting his partner, but Rebecca calmed her teammate down and was really nice to Leon. Wesker, Jill and Chris actually made fun of Leon in the police station by putting different things on him while he was peacefully sleeping after hangover. They had some extra interractions where Chris and Jill were foolling around the police station while Wesker watched them (it's implied that Wesker has feelings for Jill, just like Chris, but they are just close friends since school)
- There was Barry Burton instead of Richard Aiken and he played the same role, so it was more of a character name change.
- There was an extra scene with Ada Wong. People complained that Wesker was dumb in the final film and was manipulated by phone messages, but in the script he secretely met Ada in the police station behind his friends' backs, to discuss what he has to do in Spencer Mansion, right before they board the chopper to fly there.
- Jill was a bit less aggressive and rock-n-roll, probably closer to games.
- During chief Irons' briefing in the police station he reported that Chambers' team didn't come back after they went to check reports of animal attack near the Spencer Mansion and he also got audio messages with screams and shooting. There was a funny scene where Barry, after hearing those messages and a long pause, assumed it was a bear and everyone in the room rolled their eyes and looked at him like he's an idiot.
- Chief Irons was such a coward he was ready to leave his family in Raccoon and tried to escape the city without them as his wife tried to call him to find out what's going on in the city, even though Irons felt guilt about that. There was a very similar scene to Resident Evil: Apocalypse where large crowds of people and cars gathered near the walls with Umbrella's mercenaries. Irons tried to use his status to escape, but mercenaries wouldn't let him. Then mercenaries opened fire at people when they saw first infected folks in those crowds and Irons had to drive back to police station to find some other way to escape. It was probably cut because of budget constraints.
- Wesker's betrayal was better written. After Jill saved Wesker from the fallen chopper, a bunch of zomies started moving towards them and Wesker grabbed Jill's hand and took her to the room with a piano. Then he opened the tunnel to the lab and told her about his secret connections and real plans in the mansion (steal Birkin's documents, earn a lot of money and escape the city using the underground train). Jill told him that she actually knew about his secret meetings and the same people tried to make the same deal with her, but she would never agree to betray her friends, so he should just forget about this nonsense and come with her to save Chris. Wesker thinks that Chris is probably dead and that risk of coming back is not worth it. Jill doesn't believe what she hears and pulls Wesker to come with her (come to light in a symbolic way). He hesitates for a second, lets her pull him, but then says no and leaves, entering the tunnel to the lab, betraying his friends to save his ass. Jill on the other hand runs to find Chris, she saves him from zombies and they both fight their way to the tunnel. In the contrasting moment, wounded Jill asks Chris to leave her to save himself, but he point-blank refuses to leave her.
- Wesker reluctantly threatened Birkin and his family to give him documents and was really surprised he took his wife and daughter here. Birkin ouright refuses to give the work of his life and opens fire at Wesker. Wesker returns fire and mortally wounds Birkin. Annett Birkin calms her dying husband, then suddenly grabs husband's pistol and wounds Wekser. Wesker docks to cover and blindly shoots back, killing Annett. Wesker is shocked by what he just did, he never killed anyone before. He really regrets it, calls Birkin a madman because forced him to do this and screams to Sherry that he didn't want to kill her parents. But there's no turning back.
- Wesker was "killed" by mutated Birkin, not Jill. Chris and Jill came to Birkin's lab a bit later and found Wesker's body.
- Birkin was a bit more likable and scenes with his family life were different and a bit longer.
- Birkin had no personal connection to Chris at all, he took no part in his education/growing up and they probably hadn't seen each other since orphanage.
- Lisa Trevor showed up in the final battle to help our heroes and attacked fully mutated Birkin on the train. She jumped him like raptors vs T-Rex in Jurassic Park, but after some fight Birkin killed her.
- After our heroes escaped Raccoon, they had a conversation that Umbrella must be stopped and the world must find out what really happened in Racoon. Leon sighs and says he needs a drink. That was actually the only "save the world" dialogue, all characters' motivations throught the script were personal.
- Wesker's ressurection was part of the ending and not post-credit scene, but it's word to word the same as in the script.
 
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Bran

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Unfortunately I'm not allowed to share the script, but I can post differences between early Roberts' draft and the final movie. As far as I remember:
- Claire arrived to Racoon City just to get her brother out of the dying town, she didn't show him Ben Bertolucci tape and didn't tell him any conspiracy theories, she doesn't know what's going on in Racoon outside of all the weird and scary stuff that she saw when she arrived or when she escaped The Raccoon City Orphanage when she was a kid. She also didn't know Ben Bertolucci personally, Ben was a TV reporter in Racoon who claimed that Umbrella poisoned water in the city.
- Truck driver tried to sexually assault Clarie, but she quickly "disarmed" him and it didn't go any further. Part of the scene is actually in the film.
- Leon had more character development and kind of a character arc. There was an extra scene when Leon woke up in hangover, his father called him and expressed his disappointment in him after that accident with Leon's partner and that he hopes Leon won't embarass him even more on a new job. Leon was really embarassed he let down his big name father as he watched their family photo from Leon's police academy graduation. He was still kind of comedy relief character, but I thought it worked in the context of the story, he had an underdog hero's journey arc. He's incompetent, but gets better and in the end saves the day by killing mutated Birkin and I guess making his father proud. There was an emphasis on this arc that I felt was missing in the final film.
- Dialogues were noticeably better with a lot less exposition and character names dumps.
- Raccoon felt more developed in the script and there was no exposition text, with bigger emphasis on its current status.
- Rebecca Chambers and a bunch of other characters had cameos in a caffee instead of Wesker and Jill. One of the cops (not Wesker) tried to make fun of Leon because of his backstory with shooting his partner, but Rebecca calmed her teammate down and was really nice to Leon. Wesker, Jill and Chris actually made fun of Leon in the police station by putting different things on him while he was peacefully sleeping after hangover. They had some extra interractions where Chris and Jill were foolling around the police station while Wesker watched them (it's implied that Wesker has feelings for Jill, just like Chris, but they are just close friends since school)
- There was Barry Burton instead of Richard Aiken and he played the same role, so it was more a character name change.
- There was an extra scene with Ada Wong. People complained that Wesker was dumb in the final film and was manipulated by phone messages, but in the script he secretely met Ada in the police station behind his friends' backs, to discuss what he has to do in Spencer Mansion, right before they board the chopper to fly there.
- Jill was a bit less agressive and rock-n-roll, probably closer to games.
- During chief Irons' briefing in the police station he reported that Chambers' team didn't come back after they went to check reports of animal attack near the Spencer Mansion and he also got audio messages with screams and shooting. There was a funny scene where Barry, after hearing those messages and a long pause, assumed it was a bear and everyone in the room rolled their eyes and looked at him like he's an idiot.
- Chief Irons was such a coward he was ready to leave his family in Raccoon and tried to escape the city without them as his wife tried to call him to find out what's going on in the city, even though Irons felt guilt about that. There was a very similar scene to Resident Evil: Apocalypse where large crowds of people and cars gathered near the walls with Umbrella's mercenaries. Irons tried to use his status to escape, but mercenaries wouldn't let him. Then mercenaries opened fire at people when they saw first infected folks in those crowds and Irons had to drive back to police station to find some other way to escape. It was probably cut because of budget constraints.
- Wesker's betrayal was better written. After Jill saved Wesker from the fallen chopper, a bunch of zomies started moving towards them and Wesker grabbed Jill's hand and took her to the room with a piano. Then he opened the tunnel to the lab and told her about his secret connections and real plans in the mansion (steal Birkin's documents, earn a lot of money and escape the city using the underground train). Jill told him that she actually knew about his secret meetings and the same people tried to make the same deal with her, but she would never agree to betray her friends, so he should just forget about this nonsense and come with her to save Chris. Wesker thinks that Chris is probably dead and that risk of coming back is not worth it. Jill doesn't believe what she hears and pulls Wesker to come with her (come to light in a symbolic way). He hesitates for a second, lets her pull him, but then says no and leaves, entering the tunnel to the lab, betraying his friends to save his ass. Jill on the hand runs to find Chris, she saves him from zombies and they both fight their way to the tunnel. In the contrasting moment, wounded Jill asks Chris to leave her to save himself, but he point-blank refuses to leave her.
- Wesker reluctantly threatened Birkin and his family to give him documents and was really surprised he took his wife and daughter here. Birkin ouright refuses to give the work of his life and opens fire at Wesker. Wesker returns fire and mortally wounds Birkin. Annett Birkin calms her dying husband, then suddenly grabs husband's pistol and wounds Wekser. Wesker docks to cover and blindly shoots back, killing Annett. Wesker is shocked by what he just did, he never killed anyone before. He really regrets it, calls Birkin a madman because forced him to do this and screams to Sherry that he didn't want to kill her parents. But there's no turning back.
- Wesker was "killed" by mutated Birkin, not Jill. Chris and Jill came to Birkin's lab a bit later and found Wesker's body.
- Birkin was a bit more likable and scenes with his family life were different and a bit longer.
- Birkin had no personal connection to Chris at all, he took no part in his education/growing up and they probably hadn't seen each other since orphanage.
- Lisa Trevor showed up in the final battle to help our heroes and attacked fully mutated Birkin on the train. She jumped him like raptors vs T-Rex in Jurassic Park, but after some fight Birkin killed her.
- After our heroes escaped Raccoon, they had a conversation that Umbrella must be stopped and the world must find out what really happened in Racoon. Leon sighs and says he needs a drink. That was actually the only "save the world" dialogue, all characters' motivations throught the script were personal.
- Wesker's ressurection was part of the ending and not post-credit scene, but it's word to word the same as in the script.

This all sounds so much better. It addresses the problems I had with the script.
 

Ark2000

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Thanks for sharing all this Maverick! I agree with Bran, it sounds much better and would make a better movie. Now i wonder, if Constantin had something to do with changes made on the script, will we start hearing usual rumors about studio interference and such, if Roberts or somebody else involved in the film gets asked about any problems it had during production...
 
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It really does support that one or two things happened:
Firstly, that a lot was cut/changed due to time or budget.
Secondly - possibly - that at the wrong point in production the studio reduced the budget.

Either way I liked the movie, but these differences so sort out many of the criticisms I had with it.
 

Hardware

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Thanks for the breakdown, @Maverick1, very much appreciated. I was always under the impression some things were added at a later stage (like Chris and Birkin's relationship, which didn't make any sense) and that a lot was cut. I wonder how much was altered in pre-production\principal photography and how much was put in during the infamous reshoots.


it's kind of impressive they even managed to make anything out of this budget.
I think that does speak up for Robert's chops as a filmmaker. I wasn't very familiar with his work but my impression is that he does know how to put a horror movie together - he just had his hands tied and is probably going to take the fault for the movie being so poorly received in the years to come, which is unfortunate. Truth is, there are more capable directors out there than one might think: the problem is that most of them are rather unlucky and find themselves trapped in deals such as WTRC, with little money and even less decision-making power. Even James Cameron started out as an out-of-luck filmmaker who got to make a turd like PIRANHA: THE SPAWNING and, to add insult to injury, he was even removed from it. Luckily for him, things got better (especially since he then married Gale Anne Hurd, who was his producer on The Terminator and Aliens and stood by him during the troubled making of the latter, even when half the crew went on strike to have Cameron removed and replaced by the 1st AD).
 

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'47 Meters Down' was made on a $5m budget and grossed $65m at the box office. I guess they thought Roberts could also work that magic with Resident Evil...they were wrong.
 

Maverick1

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I think that does speak up for Robert's chops as a filmmaker. I wasn't very familiar with his work but my impression is that he does know how to put a horror movie together - he just had his hands tied and is probably going to take the fault for the movie being so poorly received in the years to come, which is unfortunate.
Yeah, it's very unfortunate, Roberts nailed it on paper and I can only assume actors also thought they signed up for a much better movie than what was released.
Truth is, there are more capable directors out there than one might think: the problem is that most of them are rather unlucky and find themselves trapped in deals such as WTRC, with little money and even less decision-making power. Even James Cameron started out as an out-of-luck filmmaker who got to make a turd like PIRANHA: THE SPAWNING and, to add insult to injury, he was even removed from it. Luckily for him, things got better (especially since he then married Gale Anne Hurd, who was his producer on The Terminator and Aliens and stood by him during the troubled making of the latter, even when half the crew went on strike to have Cameron removed and replaced by the 1st AD).
That's a good point and example. If Terminator never happend, we wouldn't find out that the guy who's credited as Piranha 2 director could become one of the greatest Hollywood filmmakers. Directors and writers, especially not established ones, have to deal with a lot of crap when they do a studio film, from many studio notes (some of them can be good, but there are tons of bad ones too) to potential budget cuts, it gets even worse if the person who approves all the decisions is completely insane like some infamous studio executives and producers.
 

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Directors and writers, especially not established ones, have to deal with a lot of crap when they do a studio film, from many studio notes (some of them can be good, but there are tons of bad ones too) to potential budget cuts, it gets even worse if the person who approves all the decisions is completely insane like some infamous studio executives and producers.
It's not just people doing "studio" movies: even indie filmmakers, at any level, can find themselves into similar trappings. The legend that if you're a director and go indie you have more power is just a legend: it all boils down on who hands out the money and what your contract says. You can have your hands tied even on a micro-budget movie if whoever is paying for it has his own plans. WTRC is not a "studio" movie either, nor are the other RE movies: they are all International co-productions spearheaded by a German company (Constantin Film). A studio movie is something produced by a major Hollywood company (a so-called "studio"). It doesn't make much difference at the end of the day ("pecunia non olet", as Roman emperor Vespasian once said - literally "money doesn't stink"), it's just a matter of labeling.
 

Gun Powder B

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There actually was a time when Hollywood gave far more leeway to directors for creative freedom. However, catastrophic flops like 'Heaven's Gate' and others put a stop to it as it was too much of a financial risk. For 'Heaven's Gate', There were reports that director Michael Cimino would actually wait for days for the right type of cloud to show up in the sky before he actually filmed anything, burning through cash like you know what.

Funnily enough, both Jaws and Star War were exceptions to the norm at that time period and did have strong studio interference during the films productions, and both were smash hits!
 
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Maverick1

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It's not just people doing "studio" movies: even indie filmmakers, at any level, can find themselves into similar trappings. The legend that if you're a director and go indie you have more power is just a legend: it all boils down on who hands out the money and what your contract says. You can have your hands tied even on a micro-budget movie if whoever is paying for it has his own plans. WTRC is not a "studio" movie either, nor are the other RE movies: they are all International co-productions spearheaded by a German company (Constantin Film). A studio movie is something produced by a major Hollywood company (a so-called "studio"). It doesn't make much difference at the end of the day ("pecunia non olet", as Roman emperor Vespasian once said - literally "money doesn't stink"), it's just a matter of labeling.
I do agree it depends on who gives you money and contract. But at the same time, in many cases, with smaller budget your hands are less tied (with exceptions like above mentioned Piranha 2). WTRC is not financed by a major studio, but it's not an indie film either.
 
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