James Mangold came to the aid of his old pal Hugh Jackman at a critical moment during the making of “The Greatest Showman.” The “Logan” director was enlisted to help oversee a week of reshoots on the lavish movie musical last fall after 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the film, became concerned that Michael Gracey was overwhelmed with the scope of the picture.
Gracey, who is making his feature film directorial debut with “The Greatest Showman,” had an extensive resume of commercials work, but struggled to adjust to the pressure of calling the shots on an $84 million film. It was also determined that he could use a veteran’s assistance with the post-production process.
To that end, Mangold helped edit the picture. He was given an executive producer credit for his work and was paid a seven-figure salary for his contributions.
A source close to the studio disputed any notion that Gracey had lost control of the picture. The source said that Gracey directed all of the principal photography and the re-shoots, noting that the filmmaker was on the set and in the editing bay throughout the production. Mangold’s input, though extensive, was likened to more of an advisory role.
Mangold’s selection made sense on several levels. He had handled musical numbers in 2005’s “Walk the Line” and enjoys a long association with Jackman. The two men have worked together on three films — “Logan,” “The Wolverine,” and “Kate & Leopold.”
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The film’s testing improved after reshoots were incorporated.
“The Greatest Showman” opened Wednesday and is one of Fox’s big holiday season offerings. It centers on P.T. Barnum, the legendary circus promoter, and his rise from street urchin to society fixture. Along with Jackman, the cast includes Zac Efron, Zendaya, and Michelle Williams. Reviews for the film have been mixed, with some critics dinging the picture for its plotting and pacing, but it did pick up three Golden Globe nominations, including a nod for best musical or comedy. Audiences also seem to like the movie better than reviewers, having handed it an A CinemaScore.
Gracey worked on the picture for seven years, as “Greatest Showman” struggled to get a greenlight. He first met Jackman on the set of a 2010 Lipton Iced Tea commercial.
Mangold and Fox both declined to comment on this article.
Ramin Setoodeh contributed to this article.