James Gunn Used Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3's Budget To Boost The Holiday Special's Production Value

After five years, James Gunn is finally about to bring back the Guardians of the Galaxy in their own "Holiday Special", followed by a third movie in 2023. The Guardians have never been entirely absent from the big screen, as they did play a part in two "Avengers" films, but their subsequent team-up with Thor in "Love and Thunder" lasted approximately ten minutes. "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" also marks their first foray into live-action television, after their appearances in the animated projects "What If...?" and "I Am Groot."

One good thing about having the "Holiday Special" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" land within six months of each other on the release calendar is that Gunn was able to film them at the same time ... and apparently, recycle some of the sets. Though the "Holiday Special" is coming out before "Vol. 3," its production design might not have been on the same level had Gunn not been able to do this. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the writer-director explained how the movie affected the TV special, saying:

"I shot them simultaneously. One of the great benefits of the special was being able to introduce elements into the movie that I don't have to then explain at the beginning of the movie, such as Cosmo the Spacedog [Maria Bakalova] or the fact that they live in the Head of Knowhere, their new residence, or introducing their spaceship, the Bowie, which, in real life, is this four-story set. It's the most amazing set I've ever been on, and so we were able to utilize those sets that we had the money to build for Vol. 3, in the special. We otherwise wouldn't have had that type of money to build these million-dollar sets."

'I wrote the screenplay in a few hours'

A recurring complaint about Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that the visual effects haven't been up to par. This has been especially noticeable on the TV side of things, with CG elements like Moon Knight's costume and much of She-Hulk's design, though the Volume-created backgrounds in "Thor: Love and Thunder" also received criticism. Part of the problem may stem from the unrealistic time demands that Marvel Studios allegedly puts on VFX artists, but budgeting is no doubt also an issue.

It's interesting to hear that even James Gunn was forced to work around budgetary limitations with "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special." You'd think Marvel could afford to pour more money into this thing, but maybe the fact that it's a streaming title automatically reduces its chances of turning any kind of profit. One thing the studio isn't skimping on is the signature soundtrack for the "Holiday Special," which includes the Smashing Pumpkins song "Christmastime." As Gunn told The Hollywood Reporter:

"The music I picked out very early. I'll be honest, I wrote the screenplay in a few hours, so it just kind of spilled out of me. It was very easy. Everything about shooting it was easy. Everything about getting the performances out of people was easy, whereas Vol. 3 was torture in every way."

Gunn has kept busy since 2017 with "The Suicide Squad," "Peacemaker," and now, leading DC Studios. Hopefully, Kevin Bacon appearance notwithstanding, the fact that Gunn wrote the "Holiday Special" in just hours and it was "really fun and really easy" to make, as he says elsewhere in the interview, won't mean it turns out as slapdash as some of Marvel's VFX has looked as of late.

"The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" hits Disney+ on November 25, 2022.