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Movies have a lot of moving parts. Hundreds of people are involved in their production. However, when a movie is a hit nobody gets more credit than the director for that success. That’s only fair though, since when a movie bombs, they take most of the blame, as well. That blame may have cost one director his job and set a new film back to the beginning of production. The utter bomb that is Pan appears to have cost Joe Wright a shot at directing Emperor.
According to The Wrap, while Wright was in Los Angeles promoting his Peter Pan origin story, he also took meetings with Lionsgate to take the job of directing the planned movie about the lives of Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus. It looked like Wright was locked into the position. Then Pan opened. The numbers have been terrible. Not Jem and the Holograms bad, but still. After Pan’s terrible opening, Lionsgate stopped talking to Wright and is reportedly back at square one on the director front.
Lionsgate isn’t talking, and Joe Wright’s people say that while there were meetings, there was no agreement. Whether or not the production company thought they had a director, or just thought they had a possible option, it does seem clear that neither is true following Pan. What’s not clear is exactly why. Sure Pan flopped but was that really a surprise? The flop was predicted before it was ever released and surely Lionsgate knew that. What’s more, Pan was an unusual choice for the director who had previously been known for costume dramas like Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina. These were successful films that earned Academy Award nominations and probably go more to showing how Wright would take on a Julius Caesar film then the Peter Pan movie.
It likely all comes down to money, because it always does. While Wright’s other films have been successful, they’ve also been smaller, cheaper affairs. Pan was a big budget spectacle that is going to lose a lot of money for Warner Brothers. Emperor is being described as the beginning of a franchise that will be using 300 and Game of Thrones as its inspiration. While the subject matter may be more like Wright’s other films, the budget will almost certainly be more like Pan. Of course, the irony of that is that the more money on the table, the less direct control most directors have anyway, making Joe Wright look even less to blame for all this.
If anybody ever comes up with a foolproof equation for how to make a successful movie, you can bet every studio will begin to use it. Risk is not something they are usually willing to take. Which is unfortunate, because some talented people lose opportunities to show what they can do when nobody will give them a chance.