Every time a new Brad Pitt project comes up, a number of comments inevitably pose this question: “what about The Lost City of Z?” That’s the adaptation of David Grann‘s book about an expedition into the Amazon to find a lost city. It has been simmering since late 2008; James Grey has been slated to direct. Now we have an answer to the question: Brad Pitt will no longer be making an expedition into the rainforest, at least as part of this project.

Vulture says “the issue was an impasse with Paramount over compensation for Lost City‘s director James Gray,” which sounds as if it translates to the fact that agreements couldn’t be met in general, and when the opportunity arose for the actor to get back to work with his Jesse James director Andrew Dominik, he took that path instead.

So will The Lost City of Z happen at all? Given that it has seemed like a back-burnered project for the last year you might not want to be too optimistic. Here’s the core of the story behind The Lost City of Z. Sounds like an epic, big-budget affair. Brad Pitt is the sort of actor that can get this movie made. Without him this needs a director like a young Werner Herzog who can just dive into the jungle and wrench the film from the grasp of the Amazon.

In 1925 Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions helped inspire Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions around the globe, Fawcett embarked with his twenty-one-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilization—which he dubbed “Z”—existed. Then he and his expedition vanished.

Note that this is a totally different project from the adaptation of Max BrooksWorld War Z, an ambitious movie about the apocalyptic collision between humanity and zombies , which also had Brad Pitt attached to star. And, as far as we know, still does.

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