EXCLUSIVE: The plug was pulled this morning on Motor City, the revenge drama that was scheduled to start production late this month with Albert Hughes directing and Gerard Butler, Mickey Rourke and Adrien Brody starring. The film was in pre-production, and the crew was just told to go home. It is an abrupt and chaotic development. Insiders tell me that Motor City stalled after the film’s backers, Emmett/Furla Films, Envision Entertainment, and Mark Damon’s Foresight Entertainment, realized at the last moment that the release date given them by Warner Bros through its deal with Joel Silver’s Dark Castle turned out to be a drop dead date. Production was to start September 17th, meaning the film could only have 12 weeks of post production. It wasn’t enough time. They needed that studio release to justify all of the foreign distribution deals made for the film by Damon. As a result, they could not secure a bond and couldn’t move forward.
Insiders tell me they still want to make the picture, but they have to do some work under the hood of Motor City to put it all back together again. Since the plug was just pulled, the backers are now dealing with the ramifications with cast, crew and filmmaker. It is unclear at present if Warner Bros will be involved down the line. In the film, Butler plays a man who gets out of prison and is bent on revenge against those who framed him.
A spokesperson for the producers and financiers confirmed the shut down and issued this statement to Deadline:
“Faced with the realities of a very short post-production schedule and complicated visual and special effects, the producers have decided to push back production on Albert Hughes’ Motor City. We are dedicated to delivering top-tier productions such as 2 Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg which is currently in production and Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor which is in pre-production. The circumstances surrounding this project made it impossible to meet the firm March 31st delivery date without compromising the quality of the film.”
When indie films get halted just before production starts often do so because of money woes, insiders said that isn’t the case here and that it was more about the requirement of a bond and the hardship that a hard release created. We will monitor the ramifications of this. Emmett/Furla Films, in partnership with Envision Entertainment, has become a prolific financier/producer of mid and higher range action drama, and recently got $275 million more in funding and a new TV division. On the feature side, EFF just wrapped the thriller Broken City with Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, with Fox releasing in January; EFF is also funding the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Sly Stallone teamup The Tomb with Summit releasing; the drama 2 Guns starring Denzel Washington and Wahlberg for Universal; the Reese Witherspoon starrer Rule #1; the action thriller Empire State with Dwayne Johnson and Emile Hirsch; the Stephen Frears-directed Lay the Favorite with Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Zeta-Jones and Vince Vaughn with The Weinstein Company distributing; the John Cusack-Nicolas Cage-starrer Frozen Ground, Fire With Fire with Josh Duhamel, Willis and Rosario Dawson and Freelancers with Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. EFF is preparing to start production on the Peter Berg-directed Navy SEAL drama Lone Survivor with Wahlberg. That is a lot of production commitment in a short time and the next big test will be Lone Survivor, also a pricey picture that was originally developed by Universal and now will be released by that studio but not funded by it.