Edward Zwick Passes On Directing Historical Fantasy ‘The Great Wall’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 17th, 2013 at 10:18 am,

During this week’s episode of the SR Underground podcast, there’s a discussion about the financially-risky nature of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, given the massive cost and absence of bankable leads. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. worked out a compromise with del Toro to have the film post-converted to 3D, as added insurance that the sci-fi film’s nine-digit budget will be covered.

Similar cost concerns prompted Legendary to postpone production on The Great Wall, the first project from a newly-opened Hong Kong wing called Legendary East. Oscar-winner Edward Zwick was originally gearing up to begin production this fall, but the start date was pushed back to next spring in order to take advantage of better weather conditions that should lower shooting costs.

Great Wall, like Pacific Rim, features actors on the verge of stardom – Henry Cavill (next summer’s Man of Steel) and Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) – and international star Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), but no one who can greenlight a big-budget production on their own. Moreover, Zwick is an acclaimed filmmaker for his work on war dramas like Glory and Defiance – as well as award-seasons releases Legends of the Fall and Blood Diamond – but The Last Samurai is the only full-blooded blockbuster he’s made to date.

Zwick, however, is reported to have left the project for reasons that have yet to be revealed officially. Deadline says that filming is still expected to get underway next year, suggesting Zwick’s departure as director may have been anticipated or, at the least, the 2013 start date is flexible enough to be be pushed back so another filmmaker can come aboard and find their feet before production begins.

henry cavill benjamin walker great wall Edward Zwick Passes On Directing Historical Fantasy The Great Wall

Cavill and Walker are headed to ‘The Great Wall’

Legendary decided to hire on lesser-knowns Gareth Edwards (Monsters) to direct Godzilla 3D and Noam Murro (Smart People) for 300: Rise of an Empire, but it is doubtful the company will do the same with a non-franchise installment such as Great Wall. Zwick’s name may not guarantee a large audience, but his credits would have made for a good selling point in the trailers. The concern at this point is that Legendary might deem Great Wall too risky without Zwick and can it, similar to what happened earlier this year with Alex Proyas’ Paradise Lost.

Great Wall revolves around a pair of British warriors (Cavill and Walker) who make their way to China during the 15th century. There, the duo discover that a massive wall is being constructed to keep out invasive Mongol forces, as well as dangerous supernatural creatures. Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz wrote the script, based on an idea from Legendary CEO Thomas Tull and Max Brooks (author of World War Z).

More on The Great Wall as the story develops.

Source: Deadline

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  1. I think they should release a teaser for pacific rim now to get people talking about the film and asking what they just saw.

  2. I hate the word “bankable”. It’s totally degrading to the actors and reduces them to simple resources (“Oh, look, I found an actor in my pocket. Gotta go to the bank and cash it”). That word pretty much sums up everything that I hate about today’s studio system and I wish sites like Screenrant wouldn’t adopt that “suit talk”.

    • Well, just remember that “bankable” doesn’t mean “great,” it just means an actor who’s proven they can be a huge draw at the box office. So, when I use the term, I’m just using it to distinguish between someone who’s a proven draw at the box office, and someone who’s not.

      Case in point: Idris Elba’s a terrific actor and a personal favorite of mine, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s not really bankable (ie. him starring in Pacific Rim just doesn’t guarantee the film will be a big financial hit).

      • I know, but I just don’t like it. I think it feels so cold and dismissive. How about “popular”? Isn’t that more appropriate for a person?

        • The only issue I have with using “popular” is it can be very relative. That is, if I were to say “Pacific Rim doesn’t have any popular stars,” it might bother all the fans of people like Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, and Charlie Day out there.

          I suppose the best route from hereon out might just be for me to say “actors who’ve proven they’re big box office draws” instead of “bankable” whenever possible, so that it doesn’t seem like I’m dismissing actors with smaller, but loyal, followings.

          • Yeah, that’s a good point. Ah, shucks… I guess there is no real way around it without building awkward sentences. Perhaps a better adjective will emerge someway down the line. 😉