Trouble has arisen for the long-developed adaptation of author John D. MacDonald’s novel The Deep Blue Good-By, which is one in a series of very popular Travis McGee books. Director James Mangold was set to reteam with his 3:10 to Yuma star Christina Bale on the project, which revolves around a self-described beach bum and salvage consultant who seeks to protect a woman who’s been torn apart from her manipulative ex-boyfriend. Filming was poised to begin next month in Florida and Puerto Rico, but Bale recently suffered an ACL injury that’s put the project’s future in jeopardy.
Apparently Bale’s injury prevents him from making the film right now. He’s currently shooting the financial crisis drama The Big Short, but The Deep Blue Good-By is a much more physically intensive shoot, as its climax involves an action sequence on boats. Per Deadline, the project has simply been delayed, with Mangold now set to first direct the next Wolverine movie before returning to The Deep Blue Good-By, which Fox hopes will jump start a franchise. But the project could be in a more dire state of limbo than that report lets on.
According to THR, the fate of The Deep Blue Good-By is unclear, with the film now “deep-sixed” despite having assembled a cast that includes Peter Dinklage and Nicola Peltz. Some sources tell the outlet the project is dead, while others believe it could be postponed (as Deadline reports). Apparently the studio tried to salvage the project after Bale was injured by recasting the role, approaching Brad Pitt for the part, but their last-minute search proved fruitless.
Bale is a highly in demand actor so the probability of him still being available when/if Mangold and Fox come back around is unlikely. It’s possible Mangold returns to the film after the next Wolverine movie, which would mean a delay of about two years, or it’s also possible that Mangold moves on and Fox enlists another filmmaker/actor duo for the adaptation; it’s been percolating since the 1990s, so this wouldn’t be the first do-over.
While it’s somewhat tough to determine whether Deadline is simply putting a positive spin on the development or if things really aren’t as bad as THR makes them sound, what is clear is that The Deep Blue Good-By is not happening as previously planned.