UPDATE, 1 PM:: I can understand why Godzilla is trying to shed producers, because there are plenty. Mary Parent is about done with a deal to come aboard on the producer roster. Parent, whose Disruption banner is based at Paramount, takes the job after working closely with Legendary on the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 8:42 AM: As it stomps its way toward a March production start, Godzilla has two significant developments in the offing. Frank Darabont, who veered into genre territory by launching the AMC series The Walking Dead, has been hired by producer-financier Legendary Pictures to do a final rewrite on the script that was written by The Seventh Son scribe Max Borenstein.
At the same time, Warner Bros-based producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee, who were among the producers who came into Legendary with a Toho rights deal for the iconic reptile, are in a huge battle with the financier-producer. Legendary, which now controls the rights, wants to drop the producers from the film. As it stands right now, the 3D picture will be produced by Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, along with Brian Rogers, the latter of whom was on the ground floor of the Toho deal. The film will be directed by Monsters helmer Gareth Edwards and has been dated for May 16, 2014 release.
A report on Hitfix.com last night mentioned the exits, and painted it amicably. Actually, it could prove as toxic to Godzilla than the time the fire breather took on the smog monster Hedorah. This one’s going to wind up in the courts, I’m told. My understanding is, Lin and Lee refused to reduce the fees they signed on for when the original deal was made. Legendary brass feel they have the latitude to get rid of them and is doing just that, exercising a pay-or-play clause and paying them upfront money to go away, with no back-end or credit on the film. The potential back-end on a global franchise is where the big bucks are.
I’ve also heard that Legendary cited Lin for mentioning the project in recent interviews to fantasy film blogs, though those comments seemed innocuous to me. This is going to be awkward, because neither guy is insignificant and both of them are lot-based producers at Warner Bros, which has money in Godzilla and will distribute worldwide except for Japan, where Toho Co will do the releasing. I’ve been calling the studio since last night to try and get its position on all this, and they just got back to me and issued a no comment. Neither Legendary nor the ousted producers would comment. Lin, by the way, has 15 years on the Warner Bros lot as an executive and producer, and his latest film, Gangster Squad, gets its premiere this evening.