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Where's 'Triple Frontier' At? Kathryn Bigelow Didn't Want Will Smith To Star; Paramount Balked At $80 Million Budget

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist December 20, 2012 at 10:36AM

Back when "Zero Dark Thirty" was known as simply a "black ops thriller," Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal had been brewing another movie, something called "Triple Frontier" (which in early stages was also known as "Sleeping Dogs"). It was an equally big project, described as a multilingual, "Traffic"-esque tale set in the notorious, crime-ridden border region between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay known as "la triple frontera." At one point, it was even being positioned to shoot in March 2011, but of course that didn't happen. So what is going on with the movie?
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Zero Dark Thirty Kathryn Bigelow

Back when "Zero Dark Thirty" was known as simply a "black ops thriller," Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal had been brewing another movie, something called "Triple Frontier" (which in early stages was also known as "Sleeping Dogs"). It was an equally big project, described as a multilingual, "Traffic"-esque tale set in the notorious, crime-ridden border region between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay known as "la triple frontera." At one point, it was even being positioned to shoot in March 2011, but of course that didn't happen. So what is going on with the movie?

Well, THR recently caught up with Bigelow and Boal, and in the midst of the fascinating piece about their working relationship, a few details on what happened with "Triple Frontier" were revealed. The trade confirmed that Tom Hanks, linked as far back as 2010, was someone the studio had wanted to star. Who else? Will Smith. But Bigelow was so uninterested in having him involved, her agents reportedly had to press the studio to convince her to even take a meeting with the actor. Indeed, a number of high-profile actors were rumored, including Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Will Smith, Javier Bardem and Christian Bale, for what was said to be one of two male lead roles. But why all the starry names?

Perhaps it's because the movie would have cost in the neighborhood of $80 million, a figure Paramount ultimately balked at. However, you can bet that the budget would be much easier to swallow if someone like Will Smith got involved. But as Bigelow showed with "Zero Dark Thirty," she's not particularly interested in A-list actors, especially if their presence might distract from the story she's trying to tell.

So after all this, what's the status of "Triple Frontier"? Unknown. "Zero Dark Thirty" is now in limited release, and even with a seemingly orchestrated backlash brewing, there is enough talk about the movie that when it goes wide in January, it could be a big hit. Certainly much bigger than "The Hurt Locker." And once all the Oscar stuff gets put away for the year, we hope "Triple Frontier" is still in the cards somewhere. Though considering it was already generating controversy before a finished story was complete, maybe Bigelow will want to chill and do something a bit lighter.

This article is related to: Kathryn Bigelow, Triple Frontier (aka Sleeping Dogs)


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