Could a new collaboration between Tony Scott and Denzel Washington be about to get Moneyballed? According to The Hollywood Reporter, there’s every chance that Unstoppable will be in fact stopped, and dead in its tracks. The issue, of course, is financial. Let’s not pretend for one second that a Tony Scott/Denzel Washington picture would run into studio problems on any kind of artistic basis. Apparently, neither Scott nor Washington’s contracts are signed yet, nor is that of second-fiddle star Chris Pine.
The Taking of Pelham 123 was hardly a blast of dynamite down the box office goldmine, so Star Trekker Pine would seem to be, on the surface of things, a rather valuable player in this new endeavor. Let’s wildly speculate that he will then be able to command a respectable sum and perhaps, in relation, drive up the asking prices of Washington and Scott. Even if that absolutely unfounded guess is far off the mark, it’s not hard to imagine how the above the line price tags on this picture could be horrendous.
According to the Reporter, however, it is the budget set aside for actually producing the thing that’s causing the cold feet. It’s apparently the film’s requirement for big action set pieces that will break the bank, which is at least a more defensible position than it being salaries for superstars sucking up the funds.
I’d advise Hollywood action filmmakers to steer well clear of films with the word “stop” in the title. Jan de Bont’s Stopping Power was derailed in similar circumstances, with a backer backing down shortly before production was due to begin. That film was going to offer a 51-minute chase sequence on a $40 million budget – cheap stuff, compared to Scott’s spend. For every million dollars of Domino, we got little more than a months worth of migraine.
The film would not only have been more cost effective with Martin Campbell directing, as once he was scheduled to, but I’d think Campbell would be just more likely to serve up a better picture.
Don’t be surprised to see this movie go into production with all stars attached and all salaries intact, but action sequences and production budget slashed.