Youch. Pour one out for J.C. Chandor and perhaps intelligent, mid-sized dramas a little bit. At least dramas that are kept at an ailing major studio. The plug has essentially been pulled on director J.C. Chandor’s “Triple Frontier.” Paramount pictures has jumped ship on the South American drug running crime thriller as has its stars Tom Hardy and Channing Tatum. A former Kathryn Bigelow project that she too couldn’t get off the ground, “Triple Frontier” was an action-adventure story set in the border zone between Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. Bigelow’s right hand man, writer Mark Boal had penned the thriller and Mahershala Ali was also supposed to star (elements of the Triple frontier zones can be seen in the last act of Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice”).
But Paramount has been ailing for quite some time which was made all the more clear when CEO Brad Grey was let go/quit/fired right before the Oscars. Of all the main studio players, Paramount had the lowest grossing figures of 2016 and they just recently took it in the teeth again with “Ghost In The Shell” — evidently it’s going to be a $60 million loss for the company. How shaky was the Paramount ground before Grey’s exit? Even a David Fincher-directed, Brad Pitt-starring movie, “World War Z 2” couldn’t find a green light because it seemed like too risky a proposition (don’t be surprised if that sequel is DOA too). Then there’s the stickiness of Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” a movie Paramount is probably not too interested in making anymore, but still own the rights to (sorry, Netflix, that one’s possibly going to get really ugly). It’s a company with issues.
Paramount is struggling to build up its I.P.; “Ghost In The Shell” could have announced the beginning of a new franchise, but clearly that’s not happening. “Star Trek: Beyond” failed to post amazing numbers (good, not great), “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” severely underperformed (lights out for both of them) and “Ben-Hur” was a massive flop. That’s nothing to say of additional 2016 bombs like “Zoolander 2” and the very expensive write down that was “Monster Trucks.”
What does this all mean? Paramount is wary of another expensive flop and caught in the crosshairs is a big, expensive drama like “Triple Frontier.” The picture was once so hot Johnny Depp and Will Smith were circling the project when Bigelow was attached.
Other issues were onhand (from Deadline):
I had heard earlier that Chandor turned in a rewrite that Tatum and Hardy didn’t love, and they were teetering. Sources said that for Paramount, this project was being done on a tight schedule and for a price, and that once creative differences imperiled that goal and requests were made for more extensive changes — I’ve heard those requests came from Hardy
Deadline, who breaks the news, laments the loss as a blow to adult-themed films, but really, with Annapurna continuing to finance films of this ilk (see Bigelow’s “Detroit,” the trailer of which was coincidentally released this morning), and the Netflix and Amazons of the world continuing to want to muscle in on prestige film territory, the film sounds like it was a victim of the Paramount shake-up more than anything. When new CEOs are examining the bottom line and doing their due diligence, projects that aren’t sure winners usually get cast aside.
Deadline says the filmmakers will regroup and try to start over. Charles Roven (Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ series, “American Hustle” and “Suicide Squad”) is one of the key producers and that sounds fine and all, but I wouldn’t be shocked if at this point they walked away (unless Megan Ellison or Ted Sarandos come a knockin’). “Triple Frontier” falling apart must be a big blow to Chandor, Roven and all involved; the picture was a month out from shooting.