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Sucker Punch

First art for Sucker Punch designed by Alex Pardee released during Watchmen's blu-ray live screening in San Diego.
Directed by Zack Snyder
Produced by Deborah Snyder
Zack Snyder
Written by Zack Snyder
Steve Shibuya
Starring Emily Browning
Vanessa Hudgens
Abbie Cornish
Jamie Chung
Jena Malone
Cinematography Larry Fong
Studio Legendary Pictures
Cruel and Unusual Films
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) March 25, 2011
Country United States
Language English
Budget $85 million[1]

Sucker Punch is an upcoming 2011 fantasy action-comedy film written by Steve Shibuya and Zack Snyder, who is also directing the film. The film is scheduled to be released in 2011.[2][3] Sucker Punch features an ensemble female cast[4] that includes Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung, and Jena Malone. The film follows a young girl in the 1950s about to be lobotomized and as she attempts to escape the asylum with her inmate friends.

The script, which was penned by Snyder and Shibuya, was finalized in five years and was actually planned to be made first before Watchmen, a film also directed by Snyder. Snyder had been working on the Sucker Punch story for six years, through filming of his other movies. For the shoot, he reassembled most of the Vancouver-based crew who worked on Watchmen.[5]

The film is scheduled for a March 25, 2011 release. It was earlier said to be released in October 8, 2010, but it was pushed back instead.[6] Snyder is already mapping out the Blu-ray interactivity for that movie.[7] Development began in March 2007 where Snyder first mentioned the film. Pre-production took place in Canada on June 2009. Filming is also taking place there and in some parts of Toronto and Vancouver.



Snyder has described the film as "Alice in Wonderland with machine guns", including dragons, B-52 bombers and brothels. Snyder's wife and producing partner Deborah Snyder concludes, "in the end, it's about this girl's survival and what she needs to do to be able to cope."[8]

In February 2009, Snyder released a short synopsis of Sucker Punch which states: "Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of Baby Doll (Browning), who is trying to hide from the pain caused by her evil stepfather and lobotomy. She ends up in mental institution and while there she starts to imagine alternative reality. She plans to escape from that imaginary world but to do that she needs to steal five objects before she is caught by a vile man. She has 5 days to escape before being lobotomized. In order to cope with the situation, she enters the hyper-real world of her imagination, and the lines between reality and dream begin to blur. She is joined with friends who are inmates from the institution. Lessons learned in the said fantasy world could help the girls escape their real-world fate."



Before casting started in March 2009,[25] Snyder revealed his ideal cast for the feature film.[26] Snyder has decided to go with an all-female cast with this film saying that ”I already did the all-male cast with 300, so I’m doing the opposite end of the spectrum,” contradicting the "no female leads" stance Warner Bros. took in 2007.[27][28][29]

Snyder has tapped Amanda Seyfried first for the lead role, "Baby Doll."[25] "We'll see. We're trying to, so...She's great. It would be great if it worked out," Snyder says when asked if Seyfried is up for the role.[1][30][31] Snyder had also offered roles to Abbie Cornish, Evan Rachel Wood, Emma Stone, and Vanessa Hudgens.[32] Unfortunately, despite Snyder's aim to have her play the role of "Baby Doll", the institutionalized girl, the actress turned it down due to conflicting schedules between the film and her HBO series Big Love.[33] Days later, Emily Browning agreed to replace Seyfried in the role. During the confirmation of her involvement, Hudgens, Wood, Cornish and Stone were all still in talks.[9]

Wood dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts with her lead role in HBO's True Blood and her stage production of Spider-Man.[34] She was later replaced by Jena Malone for the role of "Rocket". As well as with Stone, she dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.[35] Jamie Chung signed up for the role of "Amber" which Stone was supposedly to portray.[15][16] Malone, Browning and Chung will be joining Cornish and Hudgens, who have all agreed to do the film.[36] This drawn attention to the press that the film was considered as one of the most intriguing projects.[37] Carla Gugino was cast as "Mrs. Schultz", a nurse in the asylum. She previously worked with Snyder on Watchmen.[38] Jon Hamm was also confirmed to be playing "High Roller", the man who is running the brothel, in late August 2009.

Snyder confirms Scott Glenn has agreed to be involved in the project. He'll be portraying "The Wiseman".[21] Oscar Isaac has been tapped in late August 2009.[23][39][40] Hudgens describes her role as the "tough one."[41][42] "I'm so stoked about it," she said. "I kept telling everyone, 'I want to do an action film.' But they were like, 'Maybe in a few years.' So I'm like, 'Ha, in your face. I am doing one now!'"[43] Each of the five girls have two characters—one is in the real world and the other one in the fever dreams.[44]


"A while ago I had written a script for myself and there was a sequence in it that made me think, 'How can I make a film that can have action sequences in it that aren't limited by the physical realities that normal people are limited by, but still have the story make sense so it's not, and I don't mean to be mean, like a bulls--t thing like Ultraviolet or something like that... It's as crazy as anything else that I have ever done. It's a movie that nobody can get made with the ending that it has and the subject matter."
Zack Snyder[45]


Sucker Punch first gained attention in March 2007. Snyder put the project aside to work on Watchmen first.[46][47] The film will be Snyder's first film not based on another work, and he co-wrote the story with Steve Shibuya, who is the original author of the original score the story is based on.[48][49] Snyder will also direct and produce with his wife and producing partner, Deborah Snyder, through their Cruel and Unusual Films banner. Wesley Coller is executive producing.[50]

Warner Bros. announced in early 2009 that they will distribute Sucker Punch due to the success of Snyder's previous film, Watchmen. "They've never said, 'Ahh, it could have been shorter,' or, 'Too bad it's so R-ish.' And that's really cool. I'm challenging them again with Sucker Punch."[48][51][52] In early interviews, Snyder stated that he will make Sucker Punch! an R-rated film, but in a recent interview he then stated that he is aiming for it to be rated PG-13.[53]

When Snyder was in San Diego hosting a blu-ray live screening of Watchmen for Comic-Con, he handed out t-shirts for Sucker Punch featuring the first art for the film. The art was designed by Alex Pardee of Snafu Comics.[54] Pre-production began in June 2009 in Canada. Snyder's pre-production work includes continuing to draw and look at concept art. He also revealed that he has already begun shooting fantasy sequences. Snyder also added that he enjoys the freedom of filming his own original script.[55] Photographer Clay Enos was hired to take still pictures on set. Enos will take portraits of the main girls, but, he's "also hoping to make something a little sexier, a little edgier, a little more eclectic."[56]


Prior to filming, the cast had trainings and fight evaluations. Training lasted for 12 weeks. It started last June 2009 in Los Angeles and continued through filming. The main girls in the film were told to lift 210 pounds weight for their roles. The stunt coordinators in 300, Snyder's previous film were also hired for the stunts in the movie.[44][57] The other cast members started training without Hudgens while she was filming another film, Beastly.[58] Snyder tells that when the girls are fighting, "[like] they're on their way to kill a baby dragon, they've killed all of these orc-like creatures and they're entering a door [and] it's this classic, real Navy SEAL style room clearing. They have machine guns but they're fighting mythic creatures, impossible creatures. The hand to hand stuff is all brutal, because Damon [Caro] did all the [fights] in Bourne and it has that vibe to it."[59] In the characters' imaginations, Snyder remarks that "they can do anything."[60]

Abbie Cornish reveals that the rest of them are doing trainings, prior to filming, five days a week in six hours a day, and were oriented with martial fighting, swords and choreography. And in the afternoon, they conduct their training sessions.[14] 87eleven, famous for choreographing stunts from films like 300 and the Bourne film series, have worked with Snyder again for Sucker Punch as they previously worked on Snyder's past films.[61][62][63]

Production and design

With an $85 million budget,[1] production took place in September 2009 and was expected to last until January 2010 in Vancouver and Toronto.[4][64] Originally, production would have start on June 2009, but it was postponed.[65] Snyder confirms that prior to the set production date, he already shot some fantasy sequences for Sucker Punch.[55] Snyder shares that the film is a "stylized motion picture about action and sort of landscapes of the imagination and things of that nature". The film's title that Snyder had for a long time and he says it was about a pop-culture reference. "It's about hopefully what the movie feels like when you watch it, more than a specific 'Oh, it's a story of this person.' It's all stylized."[66]

Some of the film's content is an imaginary brothel that the five girls enter in the alternate reality. It includes singing and dancing. Hudgens was featured in a lush dancing scene and does a techno-belly dance musical number in the cavernous night club set while the character of Browning is tangling with a mutant German officer.[5] It also includes dragons, aliens and a scenario of World War One due to the time setting of the film. Snyder expressed his interest in the film's content:

On the other hand, though it's fetishistic and personal, I like to think that my fetishes aren't that obscure. Who doesn't want to see girls running down the trenches of World War One wreaking havoc? I'd always had an interest in those worlds — comic books, fantasy art, animated films. I'd like to see this, that's how I approach everything, and then keep pushing it from there.[5]

Rick Carter is production designer.[67] Sucker Punch operates on three levels—a reality, then a sub-reality where the psych ward world shifts into a strange high-roller's brothel. Then a dream world where it goes into action sequences that are removed from time and space.[14] Snyder wanted to design the movie to where there’s no limits on him at all, considering that he had co-written the script and this is his first original film not based on any earlier references, and says it is the most difficult part. He adds that he still wants it to "be a cool story and not just like a video game where you’re just loose and going nuts."[68] Sucker Punch is into a mix of real and digital, with the night club built next door to the First World War trenches, a castle's partial facade — dragons to be added later — and the grim asylum hallways.[5]


Music will play an integral role in the movie. “In the story, music is the thing that launches them into these fantasy worlds,” Snyder explains.[27] Music becomes the backbone of the film. They used actual songs for Sucker Punch that would create suitable moods. It plays an important factor in the film and will be used as it was in Moulin Rouge!, as Snyder says.[48] Since some parts of the film tales place in a brothel,[41] dance choreography was spearheaded by Paul Becker with Jeff Dimitriou as associate choreographer. Carla Gugino, who plays a "madam" in the brothel, had to take singing lessons for the brothel scenes wherein she plays a choreographer madam in the brothel.[17] The brothel scenario will have "sexy" songs, as Jamie Chung describes, and dance fantasy scenes.[69] As of September 2009, Chung remarked that they already begun recording tracks for Sucker Punch.[62]


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