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Brad Pitt Officially Out Of 'The Lost City Of Z'

by Edward Davis
November 3, 2010 11:49 AM
10 Comments
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Director James Gray Apparently At Odds Over Pay With Paramount



You've gotta feel bad for director James Gray here. He's been dancing around "The Lost City Of Z" with Brad Pitt for months, and while it looked like the notoriously fussy actor — known for attaching himself to lots of projects, but not always actually committing to them — would be starring in his picture sometime in 2011, it's just not to be.

And the writing was on the wall yesterday. Pitt dancing around the shiny new toy that is Andrew Dominik's new project, the crime caper "Coogan's Trade" with a possible impressive cast that may include Casey Affleck, Javier Bardem, Sam Rockwell and Mark Ruffalo (plus he's interested in another project called, "The Gray Man"). Anyone paying attention all along knew that this news had to smell like bad news for the long-gestating "The Lost City Of Z." And yup, it pretty much does.

The adventure tale was being excitingly billed as a "Lawrence Of Arabia"-style epic and now had Inferno Entertainment's Bill Johnson and Jim Siebel on board alongside Pitt and his Plan B shingle with buyers at Cannes "flocking to the project" earlier this year. The thought was, at the time, principal photography could commence as soon as Pitt completed his turn on "Moneyball" which shot this summer.

But it's not gonna happen. Vulture reports that Paramount and the project have officially lost Pitt. Why? As they say it, because of the Dominik project and the fact that apparently there was a pay impasse for Gray with Paramount that could not be reconciled.

Though it does sound like it's ready to go and when push comes to shove, Pitt is more interested in the project by the man who directed him to a Best Actor prize in Venice for his turn in "The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward John Ford." That film was an expensive near fiasco at the box-office, but as Venice attests, it gained great critical praise and it's become a total cult, fan favorite. Look at our Best of the Decade coverage, it's everywhere, the #2 film of 2007 (just a hair behind "There Will Be Blood"), plus we named its haunting score by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis the #1 score of the entire decade. It's a film cinephiles adore and you can see that Criterion Collection myopicists are always clamoring on about when the film will finally arrive there. It's owned by WB, and we wouldn't hold our breath, frankly. Bad news for Gray, but good news for cinephiles we suppose if/when Dominik's film gets off the ground. 'Assassination' kind of landed him in director's jail it did so poorly, but its legend has only grown, so in the end it worked out for him.

For Gray it's back to the drawing board and or he's possibly full off this project entirely, but it's not as bad as when Pitt bailed on the original version of Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain" in 2002, then budgeted at $70 million with Cate Blanchett in the female lead role that eventually went to Rachel Weisz. He basically jumped about a month or two before the film was to start shooting, sets had been built; the whole shebang. He did the same last minute exit with "State Of Play," and to a lesser extent with Aronofsky's "The Fighter," but as readers point out, script changes -- and over script tweaking -- may have precipitated his exit on all of these, i.e. if it ain't broke...

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More: Actors, Andrew Dominik, James Gray

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10 Comments

  • sunny | November 4, 2010 11:58 AMReply

    Coogan's Trade's distributing company Inferno Entertainment has worked as international sales agent on The Lost City Of Z at Cannes FF this year.
    That is more than $100mill project and it seems to me that they failed to find financiers. It was first reported that the studio would not greenlit that movie without someone's full funding.

  • Edward | November 4, 2010 8:49 AMReply

    Man as someone said you need to get your facts straight. Pitt bailed on The Fountain because once he signed on the studio kept throwing huge money at it because they had a big name attached and persuaded Aronofsky to alter the movie so much that it was no longer the smaller film Pitt signed on for. Aronofsky has since said that Pitt was right to walk and that he was too eager to please the studio and inexperienced to stand up and stay true to his vision. Aronofsky & Pitt are fine about this.

    Ditto with State of Play. Pitt shepherded that film from a script he loved by Carnahan bringing on MacDonald as director and Norton and Wright-Penn. Once again another studio decided to mess with the orginal version and handed Pitt the rewritten script by committee just days before the writers' strike and basically said take it or leave it. Unfortunately for the studio Pitt has script approval and play or pay contracts and felt it was too far from the original script & had serious problems. He wanted to wait until the strike was over so they could get it right. Studio tried to play hardball with Pitt and distort what really happened so he walked - with their $20 million. Which let him do Malick's Tree of Life for nothing. Not bad.

    And you must know how Warner Brothers dumped Jesse James and refused to back it in any way after Pitt and the Brothers Scott refused to change it into a shoot em up. Pitt's production company took a substantial loss rather than give in to studio pressure to alter what is arguably a masterpiece.

    I also am reading that the real reason this was getting delayed was due to Gray's own dispute with the studio over his pay.

  • Night | November 4, 2010 7:28 AMReply

    DEPPPPPPPPP!

  • Poirot | November 4, 2010 6:50 AMReply

    Brad Pitt also bailed on State of Play just before it started filming too.

  • Adanna | November 4, 2010 4:53 AMReply

    Paramount refused to pay James Gray due to JPhoenix's behavor and the failure of Gray's last film. Gray pulled out and so did Brad. Get the story straight. Other sites are reporting the facts.

  • Maria | November 4, 2010 3:29 AMReply

    what a shock, Brad screws over another director by bailing on a project he was 'committed' to.

  • Edward Davis | November 4, 2010 3:09 AMReply

    Also, on further debate. Not sure this James Gray stuff is legit. Sounds like a red herring. Just like Moneyball/Soderbergh the blame is being placed elsewhere, but insiders know that that sitch was all Pitt.

    Why would gray ask for more money all of a sudden this far along into development? There's something else going on here, another story. It's probably expensive too and the studio had some reservations. There's more than meets the eye here.

  • moviefan | November 4, 2010 2:49 AMReply

    No big shock, this is Pitt's M.O. As far as I'm concerned the movies were better without him. He's teflon, though, and lots of 'insiders' will gladly say it's everyone else's fault.

  • Edward Davis | November 4, 2010 2:31 AMReply

    Crap, i was going too fast. The practical part of life, i had to run out of the office. I amended the post and apologize for the error. Glad you guys are on top of us like this, sincerely.

  • Cde. | November 4, 2010 2:22 AMReply

    Damn.

    A project like this would have done wonders for Gray's career and bankability as a director, and it sounded really promising.
    Hope it pulls through with a new star soon.

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