MONDAY 11:30 PM: Tonight I’ve been informed by a reliable source that “Capitol Films just had another movie shut down” — identified as An Invisible Sign Of My Own starring America Ferrera, the star of ABC’s Ugly Betty.
So add her name to the star actors and directors like John Cusack, Helen Mirren, Gina Gershon, Joe Pesci, Jan de Bont, and Taylor Hackford whom I’ve learned have been, and Jennifer Lopez with writer-helmer Don Roos, may soon be, impacted by Capitol Films’ cash crunch. “This is a big story that involves many projects,” one of my sources informs. All weekend I reported on the on-set drama surrounding Friday’s shutdown of the David O. Russell film Nailed shooting in South Carolina, sidelining stars Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal. SAG ordered the actors to leave because insufficient funds were on deposit with the guild. Other unions are looking into the situation. For instance, some Teamsters and IATSE union members left the production because of payroll problems. The film is back shooting today after a Friday-Saturday-Sunday hiatus. But other media sources are now reporting what I revealed on Saturday: that the South Carolina Film Commission may withhold its incentive monies. (A decision will be made when an audit is completed by the panel within 30 days of the end of production.) Now I’ve learned that Nailed was not the only indie film shut down Friday because of Capitol Films’ financing problems: other indie movies have been affected as well. I’m told that “a shitload of people are owed a lot of money,” in the words of one film financing expert. One NYC movie funder told me this is going to be “a big crash and burn story” because he’d heard last week that Capitol’s major financing source, a hedge fund, had shut down and left it in the lurch. David Bergstein’s Capitol Films behind the pic is troubled. David Bergstein in 2006 acquired Capitol, the leading UK-based international sales company which over the years had built a good reputation in the movie biz and made a wide range of commercial and critical successes, including Robert Altman’s Gosford Park. But that was then, and this is now.
– So I’m told by two significant sources that Capitol Films was also funding the $5M-$7M budget of the Rob Schmidt-directed horror indie Bad Meat. According to one of my insiders, that production was shut down while shooting in Canada on Friday by ACTRA (the Canadian actor’s guild) for non-payment of actor salaries. He tells me: “Not sure if this is on SAG’s radar yet. The various crew unions have told everyone to go home as well. They claim to be getting more money tomorrow, but most everyone (SAG members) flew home Saturday morning. If they are having trouble with both pics, that does not bode well. Capitol’s problem is looking bigger than it initially seemed.” The second source details for me what went on behind-the-scenes:
“The start of the Bad Meat shoot was delayed for ten days because Capitol didn’t provide the promised funds. They claimed that Bergstein’s father was ill and that he was unavailable to sign checks. Capitol finally came up with starting money, and the shoot was going well. Suddenly on Friday, two weeks away from completing principal photography, we were told that the money has completely run out and production is shutting down. My client came home yesterday. Many, many people are ending up unpaid– actors, crew, catering, travel, etc. Capitol is claiming that money will be flowing by the end of the week for Bad Meat. They’re asserting that they have a very large credit facility coming from Comerica Bank. We all think that’s nonsensical.”
– I’d heard there were financing problems and delays with Jennifer Lopez’s upcoming star turn in a film because of Capitol’s money woes. But a source close to the project now tells me that Love And Other Impossible Pursuits, written and directed by Don Roos, is still supposed to commence principal photography beginning July 8th. “Supposedly, the cash is in the bank.” Others contend it may be put on indefinite hold.
– A source tells me that International Media Films was producing and shooting Jan de Bont’s and John Cusack’s film, Stopping Power, in Berlin when they ran out of financing. Capitol Film took over and was suppose to continue shooting and pay everyone “and never did. No one was paid from International Media or Capitol Films. All the actors and the crews had to fled Germany. It was and still is a nightmare!”
– Still another source informs me: “This isn’t the first time Capitol has run into trouble. They’ve developed quite a reputation in New Mexico for running out of money. The Taylor Hackford film, Love Ranch, was shut down for one day because of a 5th straight week of late paychecks. As of the last week of filming, several actors hadn’t been paid.
– From yet another source: “Another one of Capitol’s films, Five Dollars a Day, also had the same kind of trouble.” I hear the film has been completed.