Few doubt that Steve Carell is an outsized comic talent. But the Los Angeles Times is suggesting that his current project, "Evan Almighty," is getting a reputation for its outsized budget, one that could ultimately run as high as $225 million, which would make it the costliest comedy of all time.
The film, a sequel to 2003’s "Bruce Almighty" starring Jim Carrey, tells the story of a congressman ordered by the Lord to load up a giant craft ship full of animals, a la Noah. Unfortunately, like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, it can be a volatile situation on a movie set when two conflicting species attempt to interact; as the Times puts it, "Predatory creatures such as lions and tigers cannot be shot with monkeys and giraffes. Filmmakers must abide by numerous regulations regarding the treatment of animals, and even the best-trained animals do not always follow orders. Sometimes a color or a scent can throw off an animal, delaying filming."
In addition, limited preparation time, bad weather, and unexpected costs for visual effects have created increases in the budget well beyond the original $140 million estimate. The Times notes that the track record for big-budget comedies is decidedly mixed; although "Men in Black II," which cost $175 million, was a hit, "Wild Wild West" ($170 million) was a bomb.
Still, the studio isn’t panicking, at least in public.
"This movie is a great bet," Universal Chairman Marc Shmuger told the Times. "It’s a spectacle fantasy and also a comedy. And a sequel to one of the most successful hits in the studio’s history."
Or, as studio co-Chairman David Linde told the paper, "It’s based on two story sources: ‘Bruce Almighty’ and the Bible, both of which were incredibly successful."