Warner Bros. shelled out $2 million for the script to the Arthur & Lancelot and attached Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin to helm the potential tentpole flick. However, when WB bought the movie, they thought they were looking at a $90 million flick, especially since they had saved money by hiring rising actors Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) and Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) to play the leads. But Deadline reports that the studio is getting cold feat as the budget has ballooned to possibly $130 million. Warner Bros. has reached the point where they’re willing to let Dobkin take the film to another studio that’s willing to foot the bill. It’s not difficult to see Warners’ logic when you have two affordable but unproven stars and the continuing trend of declining ticket sales.
Hit the jump for a refresher on how Warner Bros. isn’t alone in willing to drop project in order to save costs.
It’s a rough economy and it’s not getting any easier. The high price of tickets, the crummy theater experience, and the easy availability of movies-on-demand are pushing consumers away from delivering the big opening weekend returns that studios used to expect. And so the risk in leveraging a major blockbuster to earn a massive gross has become a major concern.
Yesterday, we reported that Legendary Pictures was delaying production on Alex Proyas‘ adaptation of John Milton‘s epic poem Paradise Lost in order to reduce the budget. The film was intended to start filming in January. Proyas promised epic battles and we heard in July that there would be “20 weeks of pre-production, eight weeks of principal photography, and 72 weeks of post-production, with the director utilizing motion capture to make the film.” Legendary is attempting to cut 10-15% from their estimated $120 million budget.
Then there were the summer’s big negotiations over The Lone Ranger. Johnny Depp, director Gore Verbinski, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer had to go toe-to-toe with Disney to lower the budget from $250 million to $215 million. This is for an adaptation of a modest TV series that involved a cowboy and his Native American sidekick going around the old west and helping folks out. Somehow this costs $215 million to turn into a movie and Disney thought $215 million was reasonable, which almost makes sense when you to take a moment to consider Depp’s star power. Then that moment passes and you realize that Disney probably forgot what happened with Wild Wild West.
Even more surprising was Universal bailing on Ron Howard‘s adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower. The Dark Tower is more widely-known to modern audiences than The Lone Ranger or Paradise Lost, but it may have been undone by its ambition. Howard wanted to turn the book series into a trilogy tied together with a TV season in between the movies. However, producer Brian Grazer said they managed to shave off $45-50 million off the budget and he’s confident they’ll get the first movie made. HBO has already committed to do the TV parts, but the movies are currently looking for a studio.
Universal also pulled the plug on Guillermo Del Toro‘s $150 million adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness because he wouldn’t go forward unless the studio gave him a guarantee on an R-rated release. Keep in mind that James Cameron was producing, Tom Cruise was on board to star, and international seasons will see Cruise in just about anything.
Universal will release a super-expensive adaptation of the board game Battleship next summer.