Sci-fi/Horror Film 'Supernova' - Starring Angela Bassett - Coming to Blu-Ray in Jan (But There’s a Sad Tale Behind It...)
Photo Credit: S & A

Sci-fi/Horror Film 'Supernova' - Starring Angela Bassett - Coming to Blu-Ray in Jan (But There’s a Sad Tale Behind It...)

nullFirst, let me just say that "Supernova" is a bad film. I mean really bad. There are bad

films; films that started out with all the best intentions and, at first, looked

like everything was going fine, but turn out terrible for all sorts of reasons. And then there are misbegotten films; Films

that started out badly, got worse as the production went along, and ended up a total

disaster. "Supernova" is one of those movies.

If you’ve

never heard of the MGM film, it’s no surprise. It barely got released in January

2000, and the really sad thing about it is that it is probably the only one of two Hollywood studio sci-fi films made to date (the other being Saana Lathan in "Alien" Vs." Predator"- another sucky movie) with a black woman as the central and female lead character, and, not in the background supporting. And,

no, Zoe Saldana in green makeup as an alien doesn’t count. I’m talking about a

black woman playing a black woman in a sci-fi film, and she’s a central character in it.

So what


The film actually started development in 1990 and

went through an army of screenwriters, eventually changing the original concept, to a sort of "Alien"/"Event Horizon" sci-fi/horror hybrid.

The original

director of the project left before shooting started, and was replaced by Jack

Sholder (who directed the really terrific 1987 sci-fi cult minor classic "The

Hidden" – Check it out if you haven’t seen it). But the studio wasn’t happy with what he was

doing, and immediately replaced him shortly after shooting began, with Walter Hill.

An inspired

choice, Hill not only directed great films such as "The Warriors," "The Long

Riders," "The Driver" and "48 Hours," he also wrote the screenplay to "Alien." Though

he had a great interest in sci-fi, he had never directed a sci-fi film before, and was eager to do one, and started with "Supernova" by doing rewrites on the script.

Unfortunately, he immediately ran into trouble in the form of studio interference, when the

studio cut the budget of the film halfway during shooting, and a number of

special effect shots Hill had planned, were squashed.

Then things

got even worse, as Hill once said in an interview: “We limped in, in post

we had a tremendous amount of effect stuff to do. They decided they wanted to

preview the movie without the effects. I said this was insane, it’s a science

fiction movie. The effects had to be added. They wanted to see how it played. I

told them it would be like shit, terrible, very bad preview, you will give up

on the movie. These previews under these conditions are political. ‘Are

you saying you won’t preview the movie?’ I said ‘You own the God damn

thing. If you want to preview it, I can’t prevent you, but I won’t go.’ They saw this as defiance.”

Not surprisingly, the test previews went very badly. Hill walked off the film and then, in an

unbelievable move, MGM rehired Sholder to re-edit Hill’s cut of the film.

They tested

the film again and, of course, it tested poorly. So they fired Sholder and went

back to Hill, hoping he would be able salvage the film. Hill said he wouldn’t come back unless

they pumped in the money he needed for special effects and reshoots. The studio

said no, and Hill told them go jump.

The story then

gets ever stranger. 

Francis Ford Coppola, who was on the board of MGM at the

time, proposed that he supervise the editing of the film, which the studio

agreed to, and gave him a $1 million to do it. Reportedly he also directed a number

of new sequences and reshoots as well.

They tested

the Coppola cut with audiences, and, you guessed it, it performed very badly. So Hill officially took his name off the film, and replaced it with "Thomas Lee."

MGM then decided it was a hopeless case, and dumped

it in theaters two years after shooting began, where it died a quick box office


And yet

there are those (a few admittedly) who

like and defend the film as one of those “so unintentionally funny and bad, that it’s

good” movies. So it’ll be good news for them that Shout Factory’s horror specialty

label, Scream Factory, will release the film on blu-ray on January 13, 2015.

It’s just too bad that Angela Bassett got stuck in a stinker like this. It would have been nice if the

film had been a sci-fi classic.

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