Zoolander 2 Dead Due To Budget Woes?

UPDATE: More details have come to light, and they follow after the break.

Last week we heard via tweet that Anchorman 2 wouldn't be happening, at least for the time being, as Paramount had passed on the film. The issue seemed to be budget. Then came a tweet from Ben Stiller, which seems to cast similar doubt on the potential for Zoolander 2: "Ron Burgundy and Derek Zoolander looking to appear in sequels. Both men destitute, without means or intellect to fund their own comebacks."

Last we'd heard, Stiller was working on the sequel with Justin Theroux, with the latter set to direct and Jonah Hill in talks to play the villain. Paramount wanted a budget under $50m, and Stiller's brief statement seems to indicate that either the script remains too expensive, or that Paramount is less interested than before in spending money on the film.

Now, thanks to Deadline, we have a few more details. Essentially, Paramount is interested in making both Anchorman and Zoolander sequels, but only if each film can cost $40m or less. That's $10m less than the last figure thrown around for Zoolander 2, and a significantly low price for Anchorman 2, given the various quotes for the participating actors. Deadline says the starting price for Anchorman 2, from the perspective of the filmmakers, is $70m+.

Part of the issue, as the studio sees it, is likely the possibility of foreign gross. Deadline points to a recent big-dollar deal Paramount made with Sacha Baron Cohen, but notes that he draws money overseas. And while Ben Stiller often does, too, in the case of Zoolander and Anchorman, the foreign take was quite low compared to domestic. (Anchorman: $85m US / $5m foreign. Zoolander: $45m US / $15 foreign.)

So does the respective talent pool for each film further cut their fee up front and angle for more gross participation? If so, the movies might get made.