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Trivia / Rollerball

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The original

  • California Doubling: The Energy Corporation is based in Houston, Texas. However, shooting for the film took place in Europe, with the then-recently built BMW Headquarters in Munich, Germany being portrayed as the Energy Corporation's headquarters. Other scenes were shot in Hampshire, England.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Many of the extras received an additional wage in order to cut their fashionably long hair, so the look of the movie would not be tied to the era in which it was produced.
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  • Fake Nationality: Ethnically Chinese actor Burt Kwouk (of The Pink Panther fame) plays a Japanese doctor.
  • Self-Adaptation: William Harrison adapted his own short story "Roller Ball Murder", published in 1973 by Esquire Magazine.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The cast made up their own rules for Rollerball, which greatly adds to the realism.
    • Supposedly, when filming was completed, the stuntmen wanted to play a for-real game before the sets were struck, but the studio nixed the idea. Something about "liability" and "lawsuits the size of the Oort Cloud"...
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The scene where drugged-up party-goers shoot up some magnificent trees with a futuristic rocket gun is disturbing enough. But just imagine how it would've been if they'd followed the original scripted idea, where they took turns shooting a dog...
    • Sylvester Stallone was considered for Jonathan E.

The remake

  • Box Office Bomb: Budget: $70 million. Final box office tally: $25,852,764.
  • Creator Backlash: LL Cool J admitted in a guest appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien that the film "sucked" but that it was his duty to promote the film.
  • Creator Killer: The remake was a serious blow to director John McTiernan's decorated career before it was torpedoed entirely by his arrest for lying to the FBI a short few years later.
  • Deleted Role: Matilda Szydagis made her acting debut in this film, but her part ended up on the cutting room floor.
  • Disowned Adaptation: William Harrison has said that he never saw the remake, let alone had any interest in it. It was even disowned by John McTiernan himself, the film being butchered by heavy editing due to Executive Meddling, which completely altered its message.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Following the negative test screenings, MGM ordered massive re-shoots and re-edits to be done on the film in the summer on 2001. Shortly after the test screenings, MGM appointed a new head of marketing and distribution, Robert Levin, who convinced John McTiernan to let go of the summer release date. This would give the studio more time to devise a better marketing strategy and allow McTiernan to do re-shoots and to re-edit the film for a PG-13 rating, in an attempt by studio to get wider audience to see the film. The release date was then pushed again from August all the way to February of 2002, due to all the post production work causing delays. McTiernan shot two weeks of additional footage in fall of 2001 to clarify certain scenes, especially the film's ending, and also cut down the violence and nudity.
    • Around 30 minutes were cut out of original rough cut of the film and entire ending was re-shot and changed. Some of the cuts were made because MGM thought that movie was "Too Asian". In original ending, Petrovich gets killed by Sanjay and Jonathan and Aurora take the plane ride back to US, during which Jonathan says that he will continue playing the Rollerball game in US, and how he is part owner of the game.
    • The original score by Brian Transeau was also removed because it sounded "Too Arabic" and was replaced with new score by Eric Serra. Also, some of the other music was changed or removed from the first cut of the film.
  • Fake Nationality: Frenchman Jean Reno as Kazakh Alexi Petrovich.
  • Missing Episode: Some of the scenes that were cut for PG-13 rating, but were never put back even in later DVD and Blu-Ray so called R rated versions of the film, include a lot more blood in all the Rollerball scenes and parts like skulls getting smashed, bones getting broken, teeth flying out... The scene where Aurora is topless and walks towards Jonathan in the locker room originally didn't have a shadow over her (this was added in post production to cover her up for PG-13 rating), their sex scene was also longer, and so was their conversation while they are laying down in sauna. Some of the other similar edits that were done on more graphic scenes in the film include digitally replacing blood spurts with sweat.
  • Release Date Change: Following negative test screenings, the release date was pushed forward from May to 13 July of 2001 by MGM in order to test the movie again, hoping that they would find the right audience for it.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: John McTiernan's decision to have a private detective wiretap the phone of one of his producers ultimately completely destroyed his directing career. McTiernan wanted to get dirt on the producer in the event he was badmouthing the studio to blackmail him into moving along with his vision of the film, and then later lied to the FBI about it by claiming that it was only about his divorce proceedings at the time, and that there was no discussion of wiretapping. Ultimaetly, when he finally faced the music, in an attempt to prevent his ranch from being taken away, he filed for bankruptcy. McTiernan has not had any film roles ever since.
  • Star-Derailing Role: Chris Klein and Rebecca Romijn never really recovered from the remake's poor box office take. The latter being nominated for a Razzie for her role didn't help much, but she did manage a Career Resurrection in the form of The Librarians 2014, which managed to become the first TV series that she starred in to have continued beyond its first season, given that all of her previous shows only lasted for a season (with the notable exception of Ugly Betty, in which she was series regular for the first two seasons before departing in the third episode of season three).
  • Troubled Production: Anyone who's seen the original script says it was very good, but John McTiernan disliked it and ordered multiple rewrites. Principal photography took place in 2000, but after uniformly negative test screenings the studio ordered reshoots. The film was then heavily cut for a more family-friendly rating.
    • The infamous night vision sequence was actually a re-shot version of the scene. After realizing that they shot original version of the scene to look too dark, the filmmakers had to return and re-shot the entire sequence, delaying the movie's release for six months. But due to the budget issues this scene couldn't be finished properly so it was decided to add green visual tint to the scene to make it look like it's night vision, even though it makes no sense for why would this scene have that look.
    • In the middle of all this, the director hired a private investigator to put a wiretap on the phone of one of the producers and then lied to the FBI about it, for which he would later serve several months in a federal prison. The end result was critically panned (3% on Rotten Tomatoes) and earned just over a third of its budget.
  • Wag the Director: Rebecca Romijn only accepted her part in the film once they agreed to remove a nude scene and provide her with a deep facial scar.
  • What Could Have Been: Keanu Reeves was originally intended to play Jonathan Cross. Nicolas Cage was offered the role, but he turned it down to be in The Family Man. Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson were also considered.


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