"The Invisible Man": Why Leigh Whannell Ignored Test Screening Feedback

There are a lot of creative decisions in The Invisible Man that shouldn't work on paper. It takes a talented director and actor to make the concept of staring at nothing to make that tense. One of the creative decisions that also really works in this movie is the opening scene as we watch Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) try to escape her abusive and controlling husband Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Cecilia isn't covered in bruises or bloodied as if he just hit her. She looks fine save for some dark circles under her eyes. All of her terror and desperation to get out of that house is evidenced in her body language and how she moves around. It's a tense as hell scene, a great way to open the movie as a whole, and a spot-on example of "show don't tell". It's a scene that wouldn't have made it to film if director Leigh Whannell had listened to test screenings.

"The Invisible Man": Leigh Whannell Ignored Test Screening to Change the Opening Scene
Editorial credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

Whannell did an extensive interview with The Hollywood Reporter about everything to do with the production of The Invisible Man and apparently one of the things that were brought up was the opening scene during test screenings. Despite the fact that the feedback said that they should show the abuse on screen Whannell thought the imagination of the audience was much worse than anything he could put on screen.

So, my experience was the opposite, but we did get that note along the way. In test screenings, one thing we would hear was, "Well, I need to see more." There almost seemed to be this need or a request for that scene of "Let's spend five minutes with them before she escapes." And I just didn't want to write that scene where it's like, "You call these dishes clean!? (Whack.)" First of all, I'm never going to be able to write a scene that will make Adrian as scary as the audience can make him. In my mind, I hoped that Cecilia's reactions and the way she was acting told you everything you need to know, which you just confirmed, and that's fantastic to hear from even one person.

Early box office reports say that The Invisible Man could earn over $20 million its opening weekend with some reports saying it could be closer to $30 million. On a small budget of just $7 million not including marketing, there is a good chance that this movie will make its budget back in the first 72 hours. Whether or not Universal Pictures learns the right lessons from the success of The Invisible Man is still very much up in the air but it's pretty clear that Whannell got to make the movie he wanted.

When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.


The Invisible Man, directed by Leigh Whannell, stars Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. It's out now.

About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at http://www.nerddomepodcast.com