Director David Yates—who helmed the final four Harry Potter films—is having a bit of trouble getting a post-Potter project off the ground. He was initially attached to direct the small-scale drama Your Voice in My Head with Emma Watson and Stanley Tucci attached to star, but was subsequently forced to drop out of the director’s chair for personal reasons. After briefly flirting with a large-scale adaptation of The Stand, Yates then moved on to a reimagining of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan as his next project.
The filmmaker has been developing Tarzan since last summer and recently set True Blood star Alexander Skarsgard as his lead. We learned last month that Jessica Chastain was circling the Jane role, but now Warner Bros. is putting the brakes on the project due to budget concerns. Hit the jump for much more.
Per Deadline, Warner Bros. has cancelled plans to go into production on Tarzan this year and is shutting down the production office. Yates remains attached to direct, but apparently the film’s budget couldn’t be reduced down to “the level that made the studio comfortable.” The report notes that casting and timing could also be an issue, as Jamie Foxx had been courted for the third lead but had yet to make a deal. Samuel L. Jackson was previously in the mix to play a Civil War veteran eager to redeem himself for his part in the massacre of Native Americans, so it’s possible that Foxx was being eyed for that role.
The future of Tarzan seems at best uncertain, but apparently Warner Bros. will try to get the film going again in 2014. The notion of studios getting cold feet at the last minute is becoming much more common in recent years, as Warner Bros. previously halted David Dobkin’s fantasy epic Arthur & Lancelot well into pre-production even though Kit Harington and Joel Kinnaman had already been set as the leads. When the budget ballooned to $130 million in late 2011, WB hit the pause button and the project has yet to be resuscitated.
A similar situation occurred on WB’s Akira and Legendary’s Paradise Lost, and we saw Disney almost pull the plug on The Lone Ranger before director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and star Johnny Depp agreed to take pay cuts in order to bring the admittedly massive $250 million budget down.
There’s no word on just how high the budget of Tarzan got to, but it must have been pretty high for WB to get cold feet given that Yates skillfully helmed four installments of the most successful film franchise of all time. The filmmaker is undeniably talented, and I sincerely hope he gets a project off the ground sooner rather than later.