Aquaman fight scene

Aquaman is about to splash into theaters in just a few days, but a clip from the movie has emerged that hardcore fans may want to see early. It’s a fight scene involving Nicole Kidman‘s Queen Atlanna, and it takes place all in one long continuous shot. Most “oners” find ways to stitch multiple takes together in post-production, but not this one – director James Wan told us it was actually done in one shot, and you can read him talk about the difficulty of executing it below.

A case could be made that a shot like this is best viewed in a theater on the biggest screen possible in the context of the movie, but if you’re reading this far, you’ve already made up your mind about watching it now. Check it out at the start of this video:

When /Film’s Peter Sciretta visited the film’s edit bay earlier this year, he spoke with Wan about this shot:

[Kidman] did it, with some help. But you talked about one shot before. That is one shot. Like if I show you guys the behind the scene of that, it is messy as heck. But it literally is we built the set with the ceiling removed. And it literally was a spider-cam that just zip around the whole room just like following the action. Following Atlanna as she just takes a person out, takes another person out. And obviously, we use visual effects to help clean a lot of things up and all that. But yeah, we did a lot of that in camera, practical stunt.

As one actual take?

It was yeah, it was one actual take, yes.

How many takes did it take to…?

I think I did over 30 takes. And it had to be split over two days, ’cause like on the first day we did it like my poor, amazing stunt actors got so tired ’cause we were doing like take after take. And it’s just like hard to keep that energy up, right? And so they were like, “Oh, we weren’t quite there yet.” Just missing out. There’ll be moments where we would get everything, and the last moment, it’d be like “Aw, just way off it.” Shit. Try it again. And so yeah, so we would come back a few days later, ’cause we have to rebuild the set back up. ‘Cause after a whole day of photography we beat the crap out of the set, so they had to, art department had to come in, dress it back up and then we did it again. Yeah.

Did you use an earlier take or a later take?

I can’t remember now. ‘Cause it’s usually, I did a similar thing in Death Sentence where I had like this one sort of parking garage shot that we shot like a whole bunch, like 15 takes and I went back and used like take three.

This is one of the first long takes Wan employs in Aquaman, and it’s arguably the best in the movie. But Wan is careful to make sure that every time he uses that technique, it’s for a specific purpose. “I think letting the audience kind of know where they are, and doing it with a very, succinct filmmaking method is very important,” he said. “I’m not just doing this because it looks cool, ’cause it’s very hard to pull that off. I do it because I think it’s an important piece of storytelling in the films that I do.”

Aquaman hits theaters on December 21, 2018. Read our full review of the movie right here.

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