In an ideal world, the creative team behind a film would get to execute the precise vision they had back in the project's earliest days, way before they even put pen to paper and the finished movie was but a distant glimmer.
But, this rarely happens. As is the case with any group project, visions collide, schedules don't line up, tensions rise, and things can easily change. While the bulk of these alterations will ideally take place before shooting has started, some movies are unfortunate enough - or fortunate enough, depending on the final outcome - to undergo major shifts in tone, story, or structure, while the cameras are actually rolling.
Obviously this isn't ideal, but because of how complex filmmaking can be, it's always a possible scenario. On the plus side, as fans, it's interesting to observe how different productions handle the pressure of being faced with a massive problem, at the least opportune of moments.
Some add extra scenes, others re-do the whole thing, and some aim for a change in tone, but either way, the movie ends up being a lot different from that initial vision.
When WarGames first started filming, it was under the direction of Martin Brest, who was just coming off the success of his comedy-caper Going In Style, as well as some work on the sixth series of Saturday Night Live.
You'd think that hiring a director so strongly associated with comedy would mean that WarGames would also attempt to head down that tonal route - at least partially - but, reportedly, the movie that Brest started to make was anything but light-hearted.
Instead, Brest took a strangely cynical approach to the story, and this led to him being fired after roughly two weeks on the film, after the producers protested against his vision. He was replaced with John Badham, who took the reigns with the mission statement of injecting some fun into the movie, as well as loosening up the understandably nervous production team.
Badham has spoken about Brest's approach in the past, describing it as "dark", and giving us some insight into how he wanted to portray Matthew Broderick's lead character:
"From what I could tell out of what Marty was shooting, he’d taken a somewhat dark approach to the story, and saw Matthew’s character as someone who was rebelling against his parents... and the way it was shot, it was like they were doing some Nazi undercover thing. So it was my job to make it seem like they were having fun, and that it was exciting, but it wasn’t this dark rebellion."
While the final cut of WarGames can't be described as a comedy, there's a sense of enjoyment and fun that permeates the whole thing, a massive difference from the colder thriller that Brest was trying to make.