Thanks to their respective roles as Peter Parker aka Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Rey in the latest Star Wars trilogy, Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley are two of the most well-recognized and most popular young actors working today. So when Lionsgate announced all the way back in 2016 that the pair would be teaming up for a big-budget sci-fi blockbuster for the studio based on Patrick Ness’ best-selling novel, The Knife of Letting Go, the first chapter of his Chaos Walking trilogy, there was understandably much excitement.
The intriguing story is set on a post-apocalyptic planet, known as only as The New World, after an alien virus kills off all females and results in the thoughts of all the surviving males to be heard by everybody at all times. Holland will play Todd, a younger member of the community, who discovers the impossible – a living young woman, Viola, played by Ridley – who he has to team up with to uncover the truth about their civilization.
Lionsgate had been on a roll at the time with the likes of Twilight and The Hunger Games, and Chaos Walking was going to be the studio’s next major YA franchise. Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity, Mr and Mrs Smith) was tapped as director, with Ness and the cast was filled out with the likes of Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Kurt Sutter, Nick Jonas, Cynthia Erivo and David Oyelowo. This looked it was going to be a big one!
Except it was just a big fail. After finishing principal production in August 2017, Lionsgate went radio silent on the film. In April 2018 it was revealed that the $100 million production would undergo at least three weeks of significant reshoots following poor test screenings. How poor? According to a follow-up report by the Wall Street Journal, Lionsgate studio execs deemed the film “unreleasable” in its state at the time. The film’s planned March 2019 release was pushed back, but with the two leads’ very packed schedules though, slotting in reshoots became very tricky. So tricky that they only took place in April 2019 and had to be done by director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead 2013, Don’t Breathe) for an additional $15 million… and then again we heard nothing.
But a few days ago, during a Lionsgate earnings call, the studio has finally revealed that Chaos Walking is back on its schedule. According to Deadline, the film has been given a 22 January 2021 release date. That’s still a way off though which begs the question: Are they still working on this thing?! There’s been no word of additional reshoots, so this has to just be post-production polish. Or, Lionsgate is still iffy about what they have and are just cutting their losses a bit. YA adaptations have definitely fallen out of favour a bit over the last few years, and I’m sure Lionsgate is not willing to risk a release in the more hotly contested summer or Christmas holiday season. Although we’ve had some major notable exceptions over the last few years, January is still considered to be a bit of a dumping ground for productions that studios are unsure of. Even if that is the case, at least it’s actually getting released now.
Last Updated: February 13, 2020