The Writers Guild of America strike, now entering its third week, has claimed its first two major film casualties.
Variety reports that Angels & Demons, the Sony-backed prequel to The Da Vinci Code that was supposed to start shooting in February, has been postponed by the studio. According to the report, Akiva Goldsman‘s Angels script “came in with insurmountable problems.” Given that the filmmakers hadn’t assembled a supporting cast for star Tom Hanks, putting the project on hold was Sony’s only real option. From the article:
“While the filmmakers and the studio feel the screenplay is very strong, we do not believe it is the fully realized production draft required of this ambitious project,” a Sony spokesperson said. “At this time, there is no new start date for ‘Angels & Demons,’ but we are setting a release date of May 15, 2009, and are hopeful to deliver the movie worldwide to theaters on that date. We do not expect any other film on our 2008 slate to be affected.”
Also feeling the strike sting is Oliver Stone‘s Pinkville, which has been halted by United Artists. Variety reports on this shutdown as well, saying:
The studio agreed to finance and distribute the drama about the investigation of the Mai Lai massacre in 1968. The film was to star Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum, Woody Harrelson, Xzibit, Michael Pitt and Toby Jones. The budget was under $40 million and the cast and crew were preparing to leave for Thailand when the plug was pulled Friday.
Stone, a WGA member, tends to work on his films’ scripts as he shoots them, but with the strike in effect, neither he nor screenwriter Mikko Alanne have that option. According to Variety, it’s unclear whether UA will bring Pinkville back on track after the strike, especially given the poor box-office returns for recent politically charged films — including the studio’s own Lions for Lambs.
One Pinkville cast member who’s already moved on to another project is Bruce Willis, who — as (yep, you guessed it) Variety reports — has signed on to star in Jonathan Mostow‘s The Surrogates. Described as “a sci-fi thriller,” Surrogates was written by Michael Ferris and John Brancato, who wrote the last movie Mostow directed, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. From the article:
Story is set in the near future, where humans live in isolation and interact vicariously through surrogate robots who are better-looking versions of themselves. Willis plays a cop who, through his surrogate, investigates the murders of others’ surrogates. The cop is forced to venture from his own home for the first time in years and unravels a conspiracy.