In case "At The Mountains Of Madness," "The Dark Tower" and "The Lone Ranger" haven't tipped you off, these days studios are more wary than ever about the coin they spend. It's an irony considering that only tent-pole fare seems to get greenlit these days, but even then, expensive, costly gambles like "Cowboys & Aliens" are projects no movie executive can afford to make. Which brings us to "Fantastic Voyage." Produced by James Cameron, and set to be in 3D, the hot project found a number of directors circling or involved at various points including Paul Greengrass, Tarsem, Darren Aronofsky, Jonathan Mostow, Timur Bekmambetov and Louis Leterrier, before Shawn Levy signed on in February. But it seems the director and Fox are at odds over how to proceed with the production.
THR reports that Levy wants an A-list star to anchor the story about a group of scientists who are miniaturized and sent into a human body in a submarine to remove a blood clot from a colleague’s brain—a scientist who is invaluable to the CIA. But Fox is cagey about doling out cash for a big name star. That said, Levy is meeting soon with Will Smith about the film and obviously, if he signs on then everyone will be happy -- since Smith is one of the few names left around town who can guarantee box office -- but if not, and if no mutually agreed upon star can be found, the feeling is that the director will walk.
If Smith signs on, Fox will have to wait -- the actor is set to team up with his son Jaden and director M. Night Shyamalan for "One Thousand A.E." early next year -- but with him on board they won't mind being patient. Levy is also chummy with his "Real Steel" star Hugh Jackman and is already set to reteam with him on an untitled action-adventure pic from "Lost" writer Carlton Cuse so maybe he could get him involved. But should Levy pack his bags from "Fantastic Voyage," he has quite a number of other options to choose from.
Among the projects he's looking at are Fox's own Frankenstein project penned by Max Landis and Disney's Sleeping Beauty tale "Maleficent" which Tim Burton recently bailed on. He's also got some projects brewing including a non-tent-pole drama about a father-son road trip to get a last batch of Kodachrome developed. Not to mention that under his 21 Laps production banner he's got a zillion more projects he's producing that he could take on as directing gigs as well.
If anything, it's just further proof that Hollywood are being very, very careful about spending money these days. As for Levy, he'll land on his feet. "Real Steel" should be a super-sized hit when it arrives on October 7th and more offers will likely be coming his way.