Universal's Little Fockers must be in dire straits. Although the studio originally wrote Dustin Hoffman out of the Meet the Parents threequel when they couldn't negotiate around his asking price, apparently writer-producers John Hamburg and Jay Roach begged Hoffman to return after they got a look at the film in post-production. Hoffman agreed to return for the re-shoots and Universal is footing his bill.
Luckily the film came in under budget, so the studio was happy to pay the extra cost to bring back the Meet the Fockers star, who plays Ben Stiller's father in the franchise. Still, insiders are saying this is going to be at least a $100 million production when all is said and done.
"Hoffman will star in some pivotal scenes opposite Barbra Streisand, and then in a big scene at the end of the movie involving all the major characters. Other pickup scenes focus on Ben Stiller and the kids," reports Deadline Hollywood.
Although studio execs are maintaining that Little Fockers scored sufficiently high with test audiences and the rushed addition of Hoffman isn't some last-minute fix, director Paul Weitz, Hamburg, Roach, and Stiller all concluded that they'd need at least a week of pickup shots with all the principal cast after they took a look at the presumably flawed film in post. Although the studio insists Little Fockers could have gone to market "as is", a production insider admits that "we [wanted] to make it better. It's an investment in the future of the franchise."
So are we reassured? The return of Dustin Hoffman to the franchise is certainly welcome - I just can't help but feel the Little Fockers footage must have been pretty bad for Universal to order such a number of expensive reshoots. Though the studio is billing this as a small correction that will make an already-good film even better, I will definitely be checking the reviews on this one before going anywhere near the box office when Little Fockers opens December 22nd.