During a long conversation with our very own editor-in-chief Steve Weintraub, director Doug Liman (whose new movie Locked Down arrived on HBO Max this week) opened up about Edge of Tomorrow – both in terms of his feelings on the film and the prospects of a sequel to his 2014 sci-fi adventure that starred Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.
Firstly, Liman prefers the title Live Die Repeat, which was the film’s original tag line and used as a title when the film made its way to home video (it was based on a Japanese “light novel” with the even cooler name All You Need Is Kill). If you haven’t seen the film (and, really, you should), it concerns Cruise’s civilian who gets drafted into a war between humans and an invading alien army. On his first day as a trooper, he begins repeating the day, over and over again, every time that he dies. “I hated the Edge of Tomorrow title. I fought Warner Bros on it and they insisted,” Liman told Collider. “And I think it’s the wrong title for the movie and I’m still hoping the film gets fully rebranded, because these films live forever in libraries.” (Later in the interview, he blames the movie’s commercial underperformance on the the fact that the studio “forced the wrong title on it.”)
Moving onto the subject of a sequel to the film, which has been rumored for years now, Liman admits that it is still in consideration. “It’s a very high bar because that was a really challenging film to go make,” Liman explained. “When you try and develop a movie with a world that involves time travel, you quickly realize that humans are never going to travel through time because there are so many paradoxes. You can hardly get through a screenplay. At some point during the development of the screenplay of the first film, Warner Bros said to me, ‘Does he need to travel through time? Maybe he could just battle aliens.’ I was like, ‘Well if you want me to make this movie, he does. I’m not interested in aliens, I’m interested in the repeating the day part.’
Should the sequel go forward, it’s the filmmaker’s idea that the movie would actually be smaller. “I’ve always been interested in the idea of a sequel being more character-driven than the first film, because that’s not how things are normally done. That’s been my approach when developing the sequel and because Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are such phenomenal actors. I get sometimes the sequel just has to have more firepower or more explosions but no visual effect is going to top what you’re going to get from a great scene performed by Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.” And it’s Blunt and Cruise’s availability that could get the Edge of Tomorrow (sorry, Live Die Repeat) sequel off the ground.
“It’s one of these things where if Tom, Emily and I were to say, ‘we’re ready to pull the trigger on this script,’ it’s Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, the film gets made,” Liman said. “That’s pretty much how Hollywood works. The stars are the gatekeepers. If you can get Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt to commit to the movie, it’s going to happen.”
We should probably pause here and say that Liman says that the script (which was being worked on, at various points, by Cruise’s chief collaborator and the original film’s co-writer Christopher McQuarrie, the team of Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, plus later rewrites being by original writer co-writer Jez Butterworth and most recently Matthew Robinson) still isn’t totally there yet. Although Liman says this fact isn’t “really an impediment.” In fact, that’s more or less how they made the first movie.
“For Live Die Repeat, the script wasn’t there when we started shooting. Tom and I often laugh about this, that during prep on that movie we’d say to ourselves, ‘There’s nothing like a looming start date for the shoot to put pressure down to get the script right.’ And then while we were shooting the movie, we’d say to ourselves, ‘There’s nothing like a looming wrap date to really put pressure down to getting the script done.’ Then when while we’re editing the movie, we’re like, ‘There’s nothing like a looming release date to force you to get the script right.’ These are really big, imaginative movies,” Liman said. “It’s not Locked Down where it’s one writer’s singular vision and you want to shoot that exact story with that intimacy. The canvas is so much bigger than any one person.” And considering how many writers have already worked on the project, that is very apparent.