• Zack Snyder’s original vision for a super-violent R-rated
    film could have limited its box office potential.
  • Losing
    led Snyder to direct
    Dawn of the Dead
    , a critical success that propelled his career.
  • Sony’s decision ultimately shaped Snyder’s path, leading him to release the hit film

    and become a DCEU creative force.



Zack Snyder reveals the SWAT remake movie he wanted to direct, comparing the unmade film to his own super-violent 300. Released in 2003, Clark Johnson’s action-thriller starred Colin Farrell, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson and Michelle Rodriguez in the high-octane tale of an elite police unit tasked with transporting a drug kingpin who’s offered a reward to anyone who can free him from custody. SWAT was bashed by critics, as evidenced by its 48% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but caught on with audiences, grossing $207 million at the box office.

The PG-13 rating for SWAT helped it put up such good box office numbers, but the movie originally could have been an R-rated, super-violent action film, as Snyder revealed recently while talking about the other project he tried taking on before directing Dawn of the Dead. Check out the director’s remarks below (around 29:00 of the clip via GQ):

Dawn of the Dead, which is a movie I made with Universal and Scott Stuber. I think they had had another director that was gonna do the movie. At that time, I was a commercial director. I turned down SWAT. I was on SWAT and I said, “No, I wanna make an R-rated SWAT. I want it to be hardcore. I want it to be like 300 with machine guns.” And they were like, “No, we don’t want that.” So I said, “Okay, that’s fine.” And I went back to making commercials…

Why Snyder Was Lucky To Lose SWAT In Favor Of Dawn Of The Dead

Sarah Polley in Dawn of the Dead 2004

Sony had no reason to be unhappy with the version of SWAT that was delivered, given its $200-million-plus box office performance. It indeed sounds as though Snyder’s version of the movie would have been a hard R, a move that would have limited the film’s box office prospects. Snyder could not have literally pitched his SWAT as “300 with machine guns,” as 300 did not release until 2007, but in telling his story, his bending of the truth effectively conveys the type of action film he had in mind before Sony passed.

Leaving SWAT may have sent Snyder back to directing commercials, but he was quickly back in the movie game, hooking up with Universal for his Dawn of the Dead remake. One of the bigger critical successes of his career, as evidenced by its 76% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Snyder’s Dawn grossed $102 million on a budget of $26 million. That box office win propelled Snyder forward, paving the way for him to release his $456 million smash 300, the film that vaulted him to become the main creative force behind the now-defunct DCEU.

is available to watch on Prime Video.

The course of Snyder’s career might indeed have been very different had Sony wanted his R-rated SWAT. Given the path he charted beginning with Dawn of the Dead, it’s lucky that Sony balked at going super-violent with SWAT, freeing Snyder to pursue the projects that defined his career.

Source: GQ

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