November 19, 2012
Most troubled movie productions
By Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

Brad Pitt in World War Z (Handout)

In a parallel universe, the blockbuster 47 Ronin is opening this week.

But on this planet, the 18th century samurai revenge story starring Keanu Reeves is a financial sinkhole that has been pushed ahead like the U.S. debt. Once skedded to open Nov. 21, it's bounced all the way to Christmas 2013.

There aren't many casinos that take nine-figure bets. But Hollywood does.

Here are some of those "iffy" bets/troubled productions.

World War Z

Based on the zombie apocalypse novel by Max Brooks.


The stars: Brad Pitt, Brad Pitt and Brad Pitt. Also Bryan Cranston, Matthew Fox.

The budget: $125 million -- reportedly long blown.

What went wrong?: Weirdest setback -- in Budapest, when Hungarian anti-terrorist authorities confiscated the production's guns (which turned out to be fully functional -- for "method" shoot-outs maybe?). The studio soured on original writer J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) and hired Lost co-creators Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard to write re-shoots. Originally for Christmas 2012, WWZ is now due next summer.

Can it be saved?: Maybe. Pitt's last "troubled production," Moneyball, was a hit. On the other hand, the trailers have not knocked people's socks off.

47 Ronin

The backstory: Based on a true story, the project was announced in 2008, with the addition of Lord Of The Rings-esque elements of giants and sorcerers.

The stars: Keanu Reeves as the outcast Kai, and a cast of Japanese actors, including Hiroyuki Sanada as the samurai leader and Tadanobu Asano as evil Lord Kira.

The budget: Originally $175 mil -- now $225 mil.

What went wrong?: The studio "yoinked" the film from first-time director Carl Rinsch, and ordered re-shoots with "more Keanu!" (kind of like "more cowbell!")

Can it be saved?: Unlikely. Keanu hasn't had much success in movies where he doesn't say "Whoa." It'll do well in Japan, though.

The Great Wall

The backstory: Horror film about the "real" reason they built the Great Wall Of China (monsters). Based on an idea by World War Z author Brooks. Snakebit much, Max?

The stars: Henry Cavill (soon to be Superman), Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

The budget: $100 mil-plus

What went wrong?: Fall filming in China was scrapped due to "bad weather." Shaky financing was rumoured. New start date is spring, but director Ed Zwick quit.

Can it be saved?: A billion Chinese moviegoers say, "Yes!"

Fury Road, a.k.a. Mad Max 4

The Backstory: After decades, original series editor George Miller got a green light to start filming in Namibia this summer.

The stars: Tom Hardy (as the new Max Rockatansky), Charlize Theron

The budget: $100 million

What went wrong?: They're still there, and with the budget ballooning, the studio sent a rep to kick Miller's butt.

Can it be saved? Probably. The curiosity factor will be strong for the first Mad Max movie in nearly 30 years.

Paradise Lost

The Backstory: Bradley Cooper's pet project, an epic treatment of Milton's saga of the war between Heaven and Hell, with Alex Proyas (The Crow) as director.

The stars: Cooper as Lucifer, Casey Affleck, Benjamin Walker, Djimon Hounsou, Rufus Sewell

The budget: $120 mil

What went wrong: Somebody actually crunched the FX cost of a war between Heaven and Hell. The word Avatar got bandied about. It'd be filming now, but the axe fell in September.

Can it be saved?: When Hell freezes over.