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Warren Beatty's Howard Hughes Biopic Loses Major Financial Backer & Casting Director

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist November 15, 2011 at 3:48PM

Did Paramount see the writing on the wall before anybody else? Warren Beatty has never been the easiest person to work with (the production history/drama of "Reds" is legendary), but with a project 25 years in the making, marking the return of return of a legend who has been out of the spotlight for more than a decade would be enticing for many. So while the studio declined to handle the untitled movie, New Regency swooped in to take control, teaming with Morgan Creek Productions and billionaire Steve Bing to produce, with a 45/45/10 split among the three. But somebody is now backing out.
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PHOTO Warren Beatty's Howard Hughes Biopic Loses Major Financial Backer & Casting Director

Did Paramount see the writing on the wall before anybody else? Warren Beatty has never been the easiest person to work with (the production history/drama of "Reds" is legendary), but with a project 25 years in the making, marking the return of return of a legend who has been out of the spotlight for more than a decade would be enticing for many. So while the studio declined to handle the untitled movie, New Regency swooped in to take control, teaming with Morgan Creek Productions and billionaire Steve Bing to produce, with a 45/45/10 split among the three. But somebody is now backing out.

Less then a day after Felicity Jones landed the female lead in the picture, THR reports Morgan Creek has bailed, leaving the project with a major financial obstacle to overcome. So what caused the big split? A mere $5 million dollars. Word is that the film is currently budgeted at $47 million, and apparently producers along with Fox, who are thinking about picking up the movie, wanted that number reduced to $42 million. No one could be swayed, forcing Morgan Creek to bolt altogether.

Now, we figure there as has got to be a bigger (dirtier) story as to why $5 million has caused such a dramatic shift (also, why does Fox care about the budget if they're not financing it?). Perhaps we can look to the exit of casting director Debra Zane. Hand-picked by Beatty, she is said to have left for the all too vague "creative differences," though maybe Beatty bristled at being given Justin Timberlake's headshot to consider for one of the roles. But if there are issues occurring on a deeper level, it may be causing some hesitation from financial types to hand over checks to Beatty. Perhaps the scope and vision of his project is already changing? Who knows.

But as it stands, Beatty's pic needs $21 million or so from somebody to get moving again. Calling Megan Ellison?

This article is related to: Warren Beatty


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