Shotgun Wedding – What happens if pirates hijack the perfect destination wedding

When screenwriter Mark Hammer was hired to develop producer Alexander Young’s idea for Shotgun Wedding into a full screenplay, he was in the midst of planning his own destination wedding while working on the screenplay.

The idea for the action comedy about trouble in paradise originated with producer Alexander Young. “A number of years ago I was at a destination wedding at a tropical location. Looking around, I started thinking, ‘This would be an amazing setting for a film, but how do you turn it into a movie? One of my favorite movies of all time is ‘Die Hard,’ and that sparked the notion of, ‘Can you do ‘Die Hard’ at a destination wedding?’ And it took off from there.”

Producer Todd Lieberman says he immediately saw the potential in the concept. “It blended multiple genres together in a way we haven’t seen before. It was adventurous, it was romantic, it was funny, and it had a lot of thrilling action.”

“Weddings are stressful,” says director Jason Moore. “They can often be so much about the trappings: the flower arrangements, the music, the dress, who sits next to whom… All those choices can sometimes be so overwhelming and you can lose yourself. That’s what happens to our couple and ‘Shotgun Wedding’ is about stripping that away. Except in our movie, all those trappings of the wedding get burned or
blown up or torn off.”

Jennifer Lopez, who stars in the film and also served as a producer, adds, “Our couple, Darcy and Tom, have finally made it to the big day at their exotic destination wedding with all their loved ones in attendance, and basically nothing goes to plan. There are a lot of twists and turns and very unexpected things happen, but that’s what makes the ride so much fun. I liked the idea of flipping the gender roles—where instead of a bridezilla, you have a groomzilla. It is the woman who is afraid of commitment and not sure about the actual idea of marriage. Darcy does love Tom, but she’s not really sure if that’s what she wants.””

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The action comedy Shotgun Wedding, gives new meaning to the phrase “till death do us part.

”What could be more romantic than a destination wedding at an exotic locale? Darcy Rivera (Jennifer Lopez) would actually have preferred something simple, but Tom Fowler (Josh Duhamel) talked her into the elaborate beach nuptials and has turned into something of a “groomzilla,” wanting everything to be perfect—right down to the spray-painted gold pineapples. As their eclectic family and friends gather on the tropical island, it quickly becomes obvious why Darcy wanted to elope. But just as the friction between the couple threatens to end the marriage before it starts, the wedding is crashed by larcenous pirates, who take everyone hostage—except the missing bride and groom. Now it is up to Darcy and Tom to stop arguing long enough to save their loved ones…assuming they don’t manage to kill each other first.

The producers chose screenwriter Mark Hammer to develop Young’s idea into a full script

“Mark was a writer we knew and really liked and he had a great take for it,” says Hoberman.

Mark was hired to write his first Hollywood feature script by Michael Eisner before he graduated from Chapman University. Shortly after graduating, Mark got his first TV staffing job working at MTV.
Mark sold his feature film script, ‘Two Night Stand,’ which was on the 2012 Black List and was made with Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton starring. Mark has worked with Amblin, Fox, Lionsgate, MGM and is currently working with Pixar

“I wrote the script while planning my own destination wedding in Italy, and I don’t think I could have written it without having that experience. I wouldn’t have seen firsthand how stressful wedding planning can be. Picking the person to spend your life with is by
far the most important decision you’ll ever make. Weddings are the first huge test a relationship goes through, and you go through that test in front of everyone you know and love. The stakes are so high. My goal in writing the script was to make that pressure feel real and relatable. I wanted to write a movie where even if the bad guys never showed up, there would still be a movie there you’d want to watch.”

Producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas says she not only responded to the script but also immediately knew the perfect actress for the lead role. “I hadn’t seen anything like it in a long time. It’s about two regular people who have to become heroes—who have everything and nothing to lose, so they go for it. The physical
comedy was so funny, and I know Jennifer is a great physical comedienne, so I sent it to her.”

Lopez confirms that Goldsmith-Thomas’s instincts were right. “I just loved the script. There was a wit and a realness in the dialogue in the way Tom and Darcy went back and forth. And I was excited about the idea of doing a romantic action comedy, which is something I hadn’t done before.”

To helm the film, the producers chose a director who enjoyed great success on Broadway before making his feature film directorial debut with the hit “Pitch Perfect.”

Lieberman says he has been an admirer of Jason Moore since seeing the irreverent Broadway musical “Avenue Q,” noting, “I was such a fan of that show. And after sitting down and meeting with him, I knew I wanted to work with him because our tastes seemed to mesh. When we gave him the script, he responded to it in a way
that clicked with our sensibilities. We felt he was the exact right director, because he delineated the humor in the situation but juxtaposed it with grounded elements of real characters and real emotions.”

Director Jason Moore

Hoberman adds, “Tone can be the biggest hurdle to cross in a movie like this, and Jason is really good at being able to do broad comedy while giving you characters that you can relate to and want to follow their journey. Tonally, he was the right filmmaker to direct this film.”

Josh Duhamel, who stars opposite Lopez, recalls, “My first reaction to the script was that this was going to be a big movie and it was going to take somebody with the right sensibility to pull it off. Jason had a great vision for this movie. He has this really amazing sensibility about what is funny and knows when to crank it up and when to dial it back. I think he was the perfect director for this.”

Moore says that the script “surprised me because it’s an unusual blend of genres, balancing romance, action and comedy in a way that felt new. And I had never done those kinds of big action sequences before, so that was appealing to me as well.”

That being said, the director points out that there are correlations between “Shotgun Wedding” and his previous work. “With choreography, you want it to be physically exciting and surprising, you want it to escalate, you want it to tell a story.

You can apply those same rules to action—you want it to have pace, to build, and have surprises. And, for me, the best action is centered around the character. You can have a thousand things blowing up and cars racing, but if you don’t care about who’s driving the car, then it’s not as fun.

“I think we got a dream cast,” Moore asserts. “One of the things I loved about casting a wedding movie is that weddings bring people together who probably would never all be in a room together otherwise. That can make for a really weird, wacky group of people, and that’s what our wedding is.”

The director concludes, “I hope what audiences take away from this movie is it’s a total thrill ride with characters that you really love and care about but also laugh at the whole time. From the point the wedding was supposed to start until sunset, everything pretty much transpires in real-time, so I want the audience to feel like they’ve been through it with this couple who’ve had to do all these incredible things. I think people will feel emotional, happy, laughing, a little bit exhausted, and maybe just a little bit spent but in the best way. I want them to have a really rocking good time…just like a good wedding.”

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