Mortal Kombat Annihilation was released in unfinished state
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Mortal Kombat Annihilation was released in unfinished state
08/15/2019 05:08 PM EST

In the book ‘Lights, Camera Game Over!’ author Luke Owen interviewed some of the cast and crew members involved in the making of MKA. The texts below are taken from the book.

REPLACING THE DIRECTOR

Paul W.S Anderson was asked by Lawrence Kasanoff and Theshold to come back and direct the sequel but declined saying he had accomplished everything he wanted to with the first movie. He also admits that part of his resistance in coming back for another movie was due to a tricky working relationship with Kasanoff: "I have a huge ammount of respect for [Kasanoff] because he was the man who saw you could make a movie out of Mortal Kombat when no one else was thinking video games were a good idea to turn into films. But Larry and I had a bit of a bumpy ride along the movie, but we made a great movie as a result of it. I just wasn't keen on going back for the same ride." Kasanoff dit not need to look far for a replacemente for Anderson, choosing to promote the movie's diretor of photography, John R. Leonetti to the director's chair. Kasanoff says "We had a good relationship, and we worked so well on the first one that we just tried to keep it all in the family." Paul Anderson also approved of the hiring of Leonetti, feeling he was instrumental in the success of the first movie. "Mortal Kombat was my first studio movie and was so much bigger than anything i'd ever attemped before in the UK, and John helped and dragged me through the process, he was a wonderful ally. He was also a good partner." Says Anderson.

REPLACING THE ACTORS

"Christopher [Lambert] was on another movie and in some cases New Line didn't want to pay the actors what they wanted or what they were contractually obligated for. So hey, Warner Bros. replaces Batman constantly and it still works. I hate to say this, but it was all business and money. There was so much going on and we had slotted a movie for then. And, business wise, we had to have it. We desperately wanted Chris in the movie, but his schedule and money prevented that, wich was not his fault at all." Says Kasanoff.

REPLACING CREW MEMBERS

"The first movie was so successful against all odds so I did what I felt right - and that was promote everyone. We promoted the DP to the director, the production manager to line producer, we probably promoted everyone over and above - and too quickly from what we should have. This, in hindsight, was not the best thing I did." Says Kasanoff.

THE DEATH OF JOHNNY CAGE

“[Johnny Cage] got killed for the same reason people get killed in Game of Thrones. We just wanted to shock the audience.” Says Kasanoff. Actor Linden [Ashby] argues: "Larry wouldn't honor my sequel deal. He looked at the ratings of the screening test results and I don't think he thought the audience responded to me. He didn't think the audience responded to Bridget, he thought Cristopher's deal was too expensive, so all he kept was Robin and Talisa. Because I guess they tested well or something. I totally wanted to do a sequel and I was looking forward to doing a sequel. Larry, in the way that he is, called me and said 'here's the script'. And I read it and went 'oh'." It was a bad script. I mean, did Larry get together with his assistand and write this thing?

THE WRITING PROCESS

Friedman: “By the time we [Brent V. Friedman and Bryce Zabel] came on board a lot of the decisions had already been made and there was already a lot of momentum. And it was more about 'you guys need to take the story we've come up with and take it to New Line Cinema and get them excited'. That was our first job. So we did. We pitched it to Mike De Luca and a few others executives and they signed off on it right there in the room, and we went off and started writing a script."

DELETING SCENES

Friedman: “we were cutting a lot of things down because the production couldn't be shot the way they were originally written because of schedule or budget. I wasn't privay all the information, but I would be told, 'hey, this epic battle that was four pages long now needs to be a two-person battle that's two pages long'. And I was hearing that they were having trouble making their days. I remember there was a scene that I don't believe is even in the movie anymore. It was one of the bigger set pieces in the movie if I remember correctly. The was a scene where Kitana had to be rescued from this absolutely epic Outworld prison, so it was going to be this really big prison break sequence. I don't think that's in the movie anymore, but maybe it is. But if it is in the movie, it was so much bigger in the script. And if it's not there, then it was even bigger. When you cut out a big sequence like that the whole movie suffers because it was designed to be a big action set piece at a very specific point if the movie - and it wasn't about the plot point for Kitana. It was problably about a mid-point set piece where the characters have to work together when they weren't quite a team yet. And really it was about the evolution of the team coming together. You can fix those plot points with band aid, but it comes to a point when you really start to gut the movie from na emotion character arc standpoint. I think ultimately the film suffered a number of blows in that regard.

TROUBLED POST-PRODUCTION

Kasanoff: "I'm telling you the effects in that movie are not the final effects. I never anticipated that someone would take the movie go, 'it's good enough'. We weren't done. We never finished that movie. But the studio said, 'we don't care'. We sacrificed quality for business." Unlike the first movie, money was not going to be spent on re-shoots, as Kasanoff made sure there were enough fight sequences shot for the sequel. However, he admits they should have spent time re-shooting scenes to fix plot holes. "What we should have done is say 'let's go back to Thailand for a week, go back to Jordan for a week and then shoot in the studio for two weeks and add this much in effects. No problem. But the studio had release date and they promised theaters they can have the Mortal Kombat movie. And at this point I realized we'd come too far. But the business thought was it's going to work anyway.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Paul Anderson: "I personally think the second Mortal Kombat movie didn't follow up well on the first one. Maybe partly that's my fault and maybe I should have gone on to direct the second film, but I would have done things differently on the second film. And it made think differently about how you create a franchise, and one of the thing's strongs franchises have is a strong creative team behind them that's stayed the same. I felt with Mortal Kombat I started a franchise and then the sequel ended the franchise. With Resident Evil I really wanted to take care of it and make it a franchise that succeeds and flourishes."

I know that John [Leonetti] didn't have a very happy time on the movie. The second movie had a lots of troubles. I didn't want to go back and make a sequel, and the problems they had this time around were the reasons I didn't want to go back for the sequel."

Kasanoff: "I should have insisted that we wait. Not wait years, but six months later. I mean, we would have missed the media bump off the TV series, but we could have Christopher back, we would have a lot of people back whose schedules didn't permit them coming back and it would have been a much better movie."

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