EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Busy night for Jason Statham. He just parted company with WME, the agency that signed him away from CAA early last year. Trying to get to the bottom of this, but it was a mutual decision between agency and client, and it happened right on the heels of Statham exiting the Sony Pictures comedy The Man From Toronto, weeks before the film started production. Unclear if he will move quickly to another agency, but he will surely be courted after landing hits in Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw and the prehistoric shark pic Meg.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 5:16 PM: Jason Statham is a late scratch from The Man From Toronto, the Sony Pictures action comedy he was expected to star in with Kevin Hart for The Expendables 3 and The Hitman’s Bodyguard helmer Patrick Hughes. Sources said the studio was four weeks from the start of production. [UPDATE: Others say production was to start in six weeks].
It sounds as if Statham hadn’t gotten to the point where he had a pay-or-play deal, but he was certainly expected to star in the movie after completing Cash Truck, on which he re-teamed with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels helmer Guy Ritchie for Miramax. He had some creative issues, sources said, with Toronto, including a desire for the film to be R-rated. That didn’t dovetail with the studio’s desire to have it be a more inclusive PG-13 for a November 20 release leading into the Thanksgiving holiday corridor.
Studio is already out to an actor they hope will keep the film on its fast track. The priority is to keep in place Hart, who is coming off the hit Jumanji: The Next Level for the studio and just wrapped the Paul Weitz-directed drama Fatherhood, which Sony releases next January 15.
Statham was going to play the world’s deadliest assassin — known as ‘The Man from Toronto” — who teams up with Teddy (Hart), New York’s biggest screw-up, when they are mistaken for each other in a rented Airbnb. The Man from Toronto and Teddy are forced to team up and save the day, but the real question is, will they survive each other?
Robbie Fox wrote the script based on a story he originated with Jason Blumenthal. Frequent Sony collaborators Todd Black, Blumenthal, and Steve Tisch are producing the pic under their Escape Artists banner with Bill Bannerman executive producer.