Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
Okay. This is sounding worse and worse, and it’s tearing me up to be the bearer of bad news here. We broke the story yesterday about Brad Pitt leaving THE FOUNTAIN, and now it’s being confirmed by other outlets, including VARIETY, that Brad Pitt is leaving Darren Aronofsky’s proposed SF/metaphysical epic.
I can understand how someone else might not. It’s not an easy piece of writing, and it would make a strange and personal film. No doubt about it. I thought the script was beautiful and moving, and I thought there was a real strong emotional component to it that would ultimately allow people to relate to it in a way that most never do with 2001. Was the script THE MATRIX? Was it the kind of thing that would spawn franchise spin-offs and ancillary marketing and merchandising? Was it an adrenaline kick worth revisiting over and over? Doubtful. Aronofsky seemd to have something very different in mind.
Brad Pitt has been associated with other projects that ended up not happening, like URBAN TOWNIE (the film Mark Romanek flirted with before making ONE HOUR PHOTO) and, more notably, the Coen Bros. brilliant TO THE WHITE SEA. I know that he wanted to make TO THE WHITE SEA. I can see why, too. That script was a thing of beauty. Watching Pitt grow his now-infamous beard over the last few months, he’s been visibly sending a message about his dedication to THE FOUNTAIN. He could have been working. He could have been doing one or even two other films. Instead, he stayed faithful.
And now he’s off the film.
So what happened?
Here’s what VARIETY has to say about the situation on today’s front page:
Pitt splits 'Fountain'
Story centers on main character's psychological journey
By CLAUDE BRODESSER
Brad Pitt is opting out of Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain" and could likely land at another Warner Bros. project, the Iliad update "Troy." The switch, however, could leave "The Fountain" high and dry and create several problems for the Warners, co-financier New Regency and tenpercenter CAA to sort out.
Warner execs have apparently placed calls to agents asking about the availability of several other top stars as replacements for Pitt in "The Fountain" -- but it's unclear at this point if the project will go ahead.
Shooting on "The Fountain" was expected to start this fall. However, the film has proceeded in fits and starts for some time, falling apart once already.
Several sources piped up today, all before VARIETY ever published their version of things, and they’re all painting the same picture of what’s going on:
Regarding The Fountain, it's my sense that - while Aronofsky is desperately trying to shore up the numerous leaks springing up everywhere on the project - the studio itself is breathing a secret sigh of relief since this is as good an excuse as any to bail on a project whose financial future they worried might be dim.
Aronofsky is advocating J. Phoenix but, as fine an actor as he is, he doesn't greenlight a 70 mil film yet. Some things are meant to be; others are not. They've sunk some genuine $$$ into this though, so it may be salvagable yet. I hope so.
Joaquin Phoenix? Wow. I mean, I like his work, and I think he’s one of the things that really works in SIGNS, but I can’t imagine Warner Bros. saying yes to this movie with him in the lead. I wouldn’t want to be in Aronofsky’s shoes on this picture at this particular point. This sort of process is where the nickname “development hell” comes from. And it’s not like this is some crappy piece of Hollywood product we’re talking about. This is something really great and personal, being shredded by the storm. The director’s whole job becomes about preserving the thing at a point like this. Another report came in that filled in a little more of the picture:
I've heard it's falling apart also. Aronofsky fired Robert Newman at ICM after he built his career from nothing and signed with Bryan Lourd, Brad Pitt's agent, after the movie was falling apart originally and New Regency came in to co-finance.
Aronofsky turned in a re-write a few days ago which Brad Pitt didn't understand and he pulled out. CAA, his new agents are trying to save it, but want to preserve their relationship with Brad Pitt who is more important to them than Aronofsky, the new client. That's the scoop, New regency is saying it's dead, but who knows.
Christ. That’s brutal. Agency turf skirmishes can create real problems for directors and actors. Spielberg has long lamented the packaging on HOOK and the way it tied his hands on certain things.
We got one final bit of the puzzle filled in for us by a third scooper today:
Warners got cold feet about spending so much on such an offbeat esoteric project. This is Aronofsky remember, hardly a mainstream movie maker. Scooby Doo this ain't. The Matrix is what they hoped it would be but I think they finally realized it just wasn't commercial enough to be spending a hundred million on when all is said and done.
So they offered Brad "Troy" instead and this whole charade is so they won't ever have to admit that they got those dreaded cold feet. When Village Roadshow
got scared of spending so much on such a strange project that should have told everybody that this script was just too damn weird to ever be a mainstream hit at
that budget level. And Pitt is hardly a sure thing. This could easily have turned into another "Seven Years in Tibet" only this would have been the weird sci-fi version!
Oh, man. I am going to try to get an official statement from Aronofsky, but I feel like I’m intruding on someone’s grieving process. If he’s really under the gun like this, trying to replace an actor and still make a start date, then the last thing he’s going to want to do is talk about the process with Warner Bros., and I definitely understand.
Still... I’d love to sort this out... and I hope for the best, for some sort of reprieve. I mean, Pitt’s agent claims he’s still in, and that all of this is premature. I guess all that smoke has nothing to do with a fire... right?
Zoriana Kit over at The Hollywood Reporter weighed in with a very good piece, and I thought I'd toss it into the mix. We're all hearing the same basic thing, filtered through various people's personal feelings, and I think we're starting to get a good picture of what's going on now.
The Vine: 'Fountain' pen is Pitt's peeve
by Zorianna Kit Aug. 30, 2002 HollywoodReporter.com
Hollywood has been buzzing all week about the rumor that Brad Pitt is itching to pull out of Warner Bros. Pictures' sci-fi pic "The Fountain." All involved insist the actor hasn't decamped, but sources close to the production are claiming that Pitt disliked the script's latest draft, for which preproduction has already begun as the clock ticks down on an October start date in Australia. Cate Blanchett and Ellen Burstyn are already in place, and the studio is said to have rented Pitt a beachfront mansion to house the actor during the shoot. There has even been talk that Warners could insist Pitt pay back the $18 million already invested in the project as an exit fee, though his reps deny that conversation has taken place.
While Warners has been trying to keep Pitt aboard, "Fountain" helmer Darren Aronofsky, who signed with CAA last month, has been scrambling to find a possible replacement, turning to his old agents at ICM - the commissioning agents on the film - for help in assessing Mel Gibson's availability. (Gibson was unavailable.) But all could still end well: To keep its options open, the studio is believed to have made an offer to Russell Crowe to step into "Fountain," while George Clooney's name also has been mentioned as a possibility. Pitt is unlikely to become persona non grata at Warners, where he and producer Brad Grey have a deal.
In fact, a "Fountain"-less Pitt could end up playing Achilles in the Wolfgang Petersen-directed "Troy" -- that possibility already has actors like Eric Bana interested in playing opposite him as Hector. And Pitt would likely receive far more than his $2 million "Fountain" tab to attack Troy.
Wow. Again. Wow. I hope the end of this long holiday weekend brings some sort of resolution for Aronofsky, and I still remain firm in my passion for the film. I hope Warner Bros. does the right thing and moves forward, and that the right actor ends up onboard. This could still be something great, and it's important not to give up on it yet.