JC Chandor Exits DEEPWATER HORIZON Movie; Peter Berg Now in Talks to Direct [Updated]

     January 30, 2015

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[Update: Now Deadline reports that Summit has already found its replacement, as Peter Berg is in talks to take over the project.  This is about as good a fix as any given the circumstances, and I imagine Berg’s hiring was facilitated by Wahlberg, with whom he most recently worked on Lone Survivor.  I can’t say I’m personally as enthused by the prospect of Berg directing as I was by Chandor (I imagine we’re in for a much more straightforward story of survival now), but hey, at least it’s not Brett Ratner.]

Well this is a bummer.  Filmmaker JC Chandor has announced himself as one of the most intriguing directors working today with his first three films, Margin Call, All Is Lost, and most recently A Most Violent Year, and while he was poised to tackle his first big studio picture with Deepwater Horizon, Deadline reports that he has now exited the project over creative differences.

Set to star Mark Wahlberg, the film is based on the true-story account of the devastating 2010 BP oil spill.  Envisioned as a “big, dramatic blockbuster”, Chandor was writing the screenplay for the Deepwater Horizon movie as well and recently told us a lot about his plans for the picture:

“[It’s from the perspective of everyone] that was on the rig. It’s just the rig though. So you’re on the rig. So it’s sort of a cross section of what happened that day, which is this unbelievable confluence of events, basically. Some BP execs land on the rig to like, give an award, but they’re not really there to give an award. They’re actually there to say ‘hurry up’ because they were tremendously behind schedule and literally it blows up a couple hours later. And then everyone has to get off.”

jc-chandor-deepwater-horizon-movieChandor also intended to delve deep into humanity’s relationship with oil in the context of the film:

“I’m sort of structuring this film almost like this tragic sort of poem as to where human beings’ relationship with oil is right now, which is we need it, we love it, we want it, we’re using a lot of it and we’re running out of it, and that’s just the facts.”

It’s possible that Summit Entertainment just wasn’t crazy about the draft that Chandor turned in, and I imagine they were expecting something more in line with your traditional Hollywood blockbuster.  This is certainly disappointing, as I think Chandor could bring something really interesting to the tentpole genre if given the chance.  While I have no doubt his next project will be a fascinating one, I still hope he gets a shot at a big studio picture in the near future.

Deadline says the studio will go out to directors very quickly on this as the film already has a September 30, 2016 release date.  Chandor was building a life-sized rig in the parking lot of Six Flags Great Adventure in anticipation of starting flming in April, but it’s unclear if that start-date will hold.  If there were serious creative differences between Chandor and the studio, the movie’s gonna need a new script.

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