If I’ve learned anything over the past year from doing this blog, I’ve learned that the movie-making business is one of the most fragile things I’ve ever seen in my life. From scheduling conflicts to unpredictable actors to unresolved writer’s strikes, it’s seems to take an act of Congress to get a movie made these days.
If you’ve been reading CTU for the past couple of weeks, you know that Channing Tatum’s movie ‘Pinkville’ announced they were postponing filming because of the writer’s strike. IMBD has actually been buzzing since this announcement with people close to the production saying that there may be a little more to the cancellation story.
Since many of these sources were people upset about the production shutting down, I held off writing about what I was hearing, because I wanted to get the information from a more reliable industry source first. Then yesterday came the Variety article below that seems to confirm a lot of what I’ve been hearing.
You can read a snippet of the entire article below to see some additional reasons why it sadly may be a while before ‘Pinkville‘ comes to a theater near any of us….
Hollywood’s New Scapegoat
Strike allows some to bail out of projects
By ANNE THOMPSON
Posted: Thurs., Nov. 29, 2007, 7:43pm PT
During the best of times, movies heading toward production are fragile chemical equations. Add a writers’ strike to that mix and things were bound to explode. “It’s tough enough to get things right,” says one senior agent. “This difficult situation makes it even more difficult. If something is risky it’s always the first casualty, whether there’s a strike or anything else.”
So it was no surprise when five volatile go-projects fell apart last week: Sony pulled the February start for Ron Howard’s “Da Vinci Code” sequel “Angels & Demons,” starring Tom Hanks; United Artists shut down Oliver Stone’s November starter “Pinkville,” an investigation into the My Lai massacre starring Bruce Willis; Warner Bros. pushed back Mira Nair’s Indian epic “Shantaram,” starring Johnny Depp; Weinstein Co. postponed “Nine,” Rob Marshall’s screen adaptation of the Broadway musical inspired by Fellini’s “8 ½”; and when Brad Pitt pulled out of Kevin Macdonald’s political thriller “State of Play,” Universal threatened to sue.
Players involved in all five pics cited striking writers as a key factor in scuttling the projects. But while the strike certainly made things more vexing, there were also other forces at play. The strike offers studios, filmmakers and movie stars a smokescreen for doing just what they want to do, with a convenient scapegoat.
“It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card,” says one producer.
Over the past six months the looming writers’ strike (with potential director and actor walkouts threatened in July 2008), pushed the studios to announce a raft of green lights sooner than they would have under normal circumstances. Stars jostled for position on projects lined up for takeoff like planes at LaGuardia. But many of those commitments seem less firm than if writers were available to make changes.
Take Stone’s “Pinkville.” The Vietnam era movie was just three weeks away from principal photography on Dec. 10, with complex sets built in Thailand and a large cast led by Bruce Willis prepping to fly to Southeast Asia, when UA chief Paula Wagner shut it down. She cites WGA member Stone’s habitual script-tinkering throughout shooting as the main reason for not being able to proceed. Not being able to write during a strike “violates his process,” she says. But the script, by Stone and Mikko Alanne, had been locked down enough to get the movie to the verge of shooting.
It was Willis who had made the film’s financing possible by taking a fraction of his normal fee. And it was Willis who walked away, saying that the script was only 90% there, and booked another, more commercial, film with a bigger payday, Jonathan Mostow’s “The Surrogates,” originally ready to go in March, now set for February for Touchstone Pictures. Some parties say there was a “scheduling issue,” while others insist that the two movies could have gone back to back.
Stone is repped by CAA partner Rick Nicita, who is married to Wagner. Obviously, UA had initially wanted to work with the filmmaker. But today’s harsh box office climate for political war films makes it likely that in the wake of Robert Redford and UA co-head Tom Cruise’s disastrous political screed “Lions for Lambs,” Willis’s withdrawal gave UA an excuse to shut down a commercially risky film. It is improbable that “Pinkville,” even with “Platoon” director Stone attached, will get made anytime soon. Encumbered by several million dollars in costs, it needs another star to save it….(click here to read more)
So what have we learned?
First of all, don’t underestimate the gossip mongers on IMDB. A lot of industry insiders hang out on that site, and you’ll be surprised what you can learn. Of course you should ALWAYS take anything you read on the internet with a grain of salt (including this blog).
Secondly, ‘Pinkville‘ may be a casualty of more than just the writer’s strike, but let’s all just hope the Tinseltown gods will smile upon us and somehow the movie will still get made (assuming they resolve whatever environment and casting issues exist now).
Finally, we know that, in addition to the 4 movies that Channing has releasing next year, he also has no less than 5 other projects on his dance card, subsequently keeping himself and all of us fans pretty busy in 2008 (with or without ‘Pinkville‘). ;-D