What Went Wrong: Knight and Day

By Shalimar Sahota

April 14, 2011

I can count about two dozen things about to go wrong.

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This will go into a few spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Knight and Day then that’s probably because you were drugged and knocked out by Brotine-Zero.

It’s a little difficult working out the hellish history of development on Knight and Day. It all started with first time writer Patrick O’Neill, who had originally written a serious thriller titled All New Enemies, which was sold on-spec back in 2004. When the script reached Revolution Studious, it was turned into a romantic action comedy titled Wichita, with Adam Sandler attached. Revolution Studios folded in 2007, and the script was transferred to its parent company Sony Pictures. After Sandler dropped out, the script was later refined, and the titled changed to Trouble Man, now with Chris Tucker and Eva Mendes in the lead roles. Sony dropped the film, and the script ended up at 20th Century Fox.

Now known as Untitled Wichita Project, it was during this period that screenwriter Scott Frank rewrote the script. His rewrite caught the attention of Cameron Diaz, who then supposedly brought in writer Dana Fox (whom she had worked with on What Happens in Vegas) to boost the romance. In early 2009 James Mangold was attached to direct, and apparently Diaz sent the script to Tom Cruise. It was in May 2009 when Cruise finally signed on. 20th Century Fox chairman Tom Rothman gave the film the unusually cool title, Knight and Day. However, the script was still going through various rewrites. Somewhere along the way, Laeta Kalogridis, Ted and Nicholas Griffin, Don Payne, Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg worked on the script. It then came back to Scott Frank, who polished up what was rewritten. This still didn’t stop director James Mangold from rewriting parts of the script during production! Overall, the film had at least ten different writers involved, but O’Neill is the only one credited.


The film follows June Havens (Cameron Diaz), an auto-mechanic (!) flying to Boston for her sister's wedding. At the airport she runs into Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), and they both just happen to be boarding the same plane. Unbeknownst to her, Roy is a rogue agent who has supposedly suffered a mental breakdown. Suddenly the few passengers on board attack Roy (even the pilots), only for him to kill them. After landing the plane in a cornfield, Roy drugs June, and she wakes up at home the next day. Soon federal agents show up, led by an Agent Fitzgerald (Peter Sarsgaard), wanting to ask June a few questions.

On the run up to release, Fox put together new trailers and varying TV spots (one promoting more action, another more comedy). Worried that they weren’t working, Fox went one better and previewed the film itself at 494 theaters on Saturday June 19th, just a few days before it opened. They may have been trying to build more buzz, but the desperation here suggested that even they were worried that they might have a flop. “The best tool we had was the movie itself,” said Fox’s distribution president Bruce Snyder. “It’s an original, adult movie, which we expect will run for quite a while.”

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