No Second Take For ‘Wake’: Bruce Willis And Director Leave Project

After a last-ditch effort by producer-financier Avi Lerner to step in to finance the Bruce Willis-starring indie thriller Wake, everything has come to a grinding halt. Willis is gone, as is director John Pogue. At issue, according to several people involved in the production, was that a certain producer would not stand down from the picture, which was contingent in negotiations with other financiers. Another issue was, because of schedules, there was a small window of time in which to proceed, and now that has been lost.

Lerner, who had worked with Willis on The Expendables franchise, was circling the project as a possible financier as late as Wednesday. If the picture ever revives, it wouldn’t be for at least a year. Apparently CAA, which reps both Willis and co-star Ben Kingsley, was trying to put it back together, and Lerner was at the ready to be white knight, but time constraints pushed schedules up against the wall.

Willis is said to have another commitment, and the cast — which also includes Ellen Burstyn and Piper Perabo — likely will disperse. Crew members in Cleveland were told that production could start as early as next week. Oh well. Producer Michael Benaroya, through his rep, had no comment.

The film originally shut down after about 10 days of production in February. At that time, Benaroya issued a statement that it would start up again in March. Word then went out a little over two weeks ago that production would resume March 23. Again, that was a false start.

The seesawing had to do with promised financing and then the lack thereof. The person whose shoulders it laid upon was Benaroya. International Film Trust handled international sales in Berlin during the European Film Market in February, and CAA was repping domestic rights.

The thriller was being produced by Benaroya, Tobin Armbrust, David Alpert and Chris Cowles, with Frank Hildebrand listed as executive producer.

The story followed a sociopath with no fear (Willis) who returns to his childhood home on a remote island for his brother’s wake. When the island comes under siege, he must save the very family that banished him from his ancestral home years ago.

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