Director drama heats up on 'Dredd' [Updated]
EXCLUSIVE: It's not often that a director of a major action film is asked to step aside as the movie enters its postproduction phase. But that's what has happened with director Pete Travis and "Dredd," the remake of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle "Judge Dredd," casting a pall over the anticipated reboot.
Although he completed shooting the picture earlier this year, Travis has not been involved in the current editing phase of the movie, after creative disagreements with producers and executives in charge of the film reached a boiling point, said three people with knowledge of the production who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the situation publicly. Instead, the editing room is now being run by a writer-producer on the film, screenwriter Alex Garland, the people said.
In fact, so involved are Garland and two other producers, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich, that Garland may seek a co-director credit on the movie. Although he's made no decision on whether he'll seek that credit -- a petition would need to be filed with the Directors Guild of Great Britain -- the fact that the possibility is even being considered is unusual. Garland is a novelist and screenwriter who did not shoot the movie and has never been credited with directing a picture before. Representatives for Garland and Travis did not respond to a request for comment.
There also still exists the possibility of reshoots, two of the people familiar with the film said, although who would man the camera in that scenario is an open question. The movie is set to come out next September.
Although the specifics of the disagreement that led to Travis' dismissal are up for debate, two sources said it arose when Travis and producers and executives in charge of the production did not see eye-to-eye on footage Travis was delivering. A separate person involved in the film maintained that although Travis is no longer involved in postproduction, he is keeping up with progress via the Internet and has not been pushed aside.
[Update, 12:23 pm. Monday: Travis and Garland released a joint statement that read, "During all stages of the filmmaking, 'Dredd' has been a collaboration between a number of dedicated creative parties. From the outset we decided on an unorthodox collaboration to make the film. This situation has been misinterpreted. To set the record straight, Pete was not fired and remains a central part of the collaboration, and Alex is not seeking a co-director credit. We are all extremely proud of the film we have made, and respectfully suggest that it is judged on viewing when its released next year."]
It's odd but not unheard of for major Hollywood producers to look elsewhere for editing help after a director has finished shooting a movie. It happened, for instance, with last year's "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," as Hollywood uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer sought a longtime Steven Spielberg veteran to work on the film and kept director Mike Newell out of the editing room for weeks.
But it's rarer for a situation to evolve to a point where a new co-director is named. The sources said a decision will be made on whether Garland will seek directing credit as the film gets closer to completion.
"Dredd" is being financed by the India-based giant Reliance Entertainment, and overseen by its foreign-sales subsidiary IM Global. It will be released in the U.S. by Lionsgate, which has also been involved in the production and postproduction phases. Spokeswomen for Lionsgate and IM Global did not respond to a request for comment.
When it first went into the pipeline, "Dredd" held plenty of promise. Although the original was considered a commercial disappointment, the new movie, based on a popular comic book and loosely remade from the prior film, featured a hot young cast led by Karl Urban, fresh off a turn as Bones in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" reboot. Travis was coming off a mid-budget hit in "Vantage Point," meanwhile, and the new "Dredd" film was to be scripted by Garland, a well-respected writer who had movies like "28 Days Later" under his belt.
The remake, about all-powerful "judges" who rule an uninhabitable Earth, also played off an interest in dystopian material that was being led by the hot genre property "The Hunger Games."
Movies can rebound from the stigma that comes with editing-room drama. But it's a mixed bag: Reported tension with director Stephen Sommers on "G.I. Joe.: The Rise of Cobra" in 2009 didn't stop the film from succeeding at the box office. But "Persia" disappointed when it was released in 2010.
-- Steven Zeitchik and Ben Fritz
Photo: The original "Judge Dredd." Credit: Hollywood Pictures.