According to the Hollywood Reporter Fox has put the breaks, at least temporarily, on its Denzel Washington -Tony Scott runaway train action thriller Unstoppable because of disagreements with the budget. While no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, one has to assume Fox got cold feet after watching the box-office receipts for Washington and Scott’s current action thriller The Taking of Pelham123 which has pulled in a ho-hum $53 million on budget of $100 mil after five weeks in release.
For me this story is troubling because Pelham and Unstoppable are the type of movies that I really enjoy. They are throwback type films that harken back to the days of the 1970’s, a great decade for film. The original Pelham and the train disaster film The Cassandra Crossing were both terrific escapism fare back then. Unfortunately when studio’s spend big money nowadays they’re looking for giant robots, superheroes and fantasy settings as the audience for popcorn movie fare continues to shift to a younger and younger demographic, looking for something very different than they were even 15 years ago. A lot of these filmgoers probably look at Denzel Washington as somebody’s grandfather and not one of the true great leading men the movies have ever seen. For my money, Pelham 123 is one of this summer’s better films. I’ll watch it any day of the week over Land of the Lost and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Fox’s hesitation is also another sign that the days of the A-list movie star being the main ticket attraction are going the way of the landline telephone. It’s now clearly concept over actor and that’s a trend I’m afraid is here to stay. Despite this we have to consider that Chris Pine (Kirk in Star Trek) is Washington’s co-star in Unstoppable so let’s hope his current popularity can influence the studio to agree on a budget and get the film back on track. I would hope at least the concept is solid enough to move the project forward since, for whatever reason, the studio is not confident enough in Denzel Washington’s drawing power anymore. Hey maybe they believe Chris Pine will pull them in! Boy how times are changing.
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