Denzel Washington may be giving up on “Unstoppable”, the action drama that would have reunited the star with director Tony Scott for the fifth time. Back in April we told you that Washington would be following Scott’s train-based drama “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” with the train-based drama “Unstoppable” – which probably seemed like a good idea until “Pelham” went off the rails with a measly $61 million domestic take. Find out how “Unstoppable” got stopped after the jump…
Fox was the studio behind “Unstoppable”, a film loosely based on the real-life story of an engineer who boarded a runaway train loaded with toxic chemicals… to save the day, one assumes. According to Variety the studio originally gave Scott a budget of $107 million to work with. In June they cut that figure to $100 million… then $90, before finally asking both Scott and Washington to take significant pay cuts.
That was apparently the final insult for the two-time Oscar winner. Denzel’s reps announced early Monday that he would be getting off the “Unstoppable” merry-go-round… I mean, train! Sorry to mix my metaphors there.
Of course, since Denzel passed on Fox’s proposal the studio announced they were now willing to negotiate a deal that would entice their star back to “Unstoppable”. Washington is said to be considering his options while “rereading the latest script draft” – though how that will translate into securing his $20 million I have no idea.
I’m not sure who to get behind in this situation. On the one hand, times are tough. It’s easy to see why a studio would be more circumspect about signing over huge checks these days – especially when recent history has proven that the investment in question is somewhat less than sound. But on the other hand, Denzel has certainly earned his place as one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. If we were talking about a small, passion project like “The Great Debaters” I could see him cutting his fee – but why shouldn’t he get paid for a by-the-numbers action movie like “Unstoppable”? Maybe the only real winner here is the audience. Now we have one less boring Tony Scott action movie to avoid come 2010.