As the 2007 WGA strike enters its third week, the studios are still losing the PR war; now, they’re losing movies.
Though Mira Nair’s Shantaram (starring Johnny Depp) and Rob Marshall’s Nine (a big-screen rendition of the popular Broadway musical) may be acceptable (and presumably temporary) losses, their postponement comes right on the heels of two other high-profile delays (Angels & Demons and Pinkville) which left huge gaps in the schedules of Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. The latter quickly filled his by taking the lead role in Jonathan Mostow’s The Surrogates, but Hanks has yet to opt for a runner-up paycheck gig to offset the $20 million or so he won’t be getting right this moment for the obligatory sequel/prequel to The Da Vinci Code. Aside from this grievous personal tragedy for the House of Hanks, there is also the matter of a missing tentpole release for Sony’s fourth quarter ’08. And don’t forget that the first movie ran up a depressing $758 million worldwide.
Nine and Shantaram would have to way outperform expectations to combine for anywhere close to that figure, but their studios, The Weinstein Company and Warner Brothers, were clearly hoping for some 2008 prestige heat from these titles. Given that their casts (Depp, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard) will likely start sniffing around for other work while these films wait on WGA-sanctioned rewrites from Oscar-winners Anthony Minghella and Eric Roth, even a swift, post-Thanksgiving settlement would probably arrive too late to ensure an ’08 release date. That said, guys like Depp and Bardem tend to be a tad choosier than Bruce Willis; they may actually wait longer than a day to hop onto another project. But I doubt they’re lacking for offers.