Denzel Washington's fifth collaboration with director Tony Scott was set to be the runaway train thriller, Unstoppable. Star Trek's Chris Pine was reportedly in talks to star alongside Washington in the movie, and it looked the project was firmly on its way.
That was until budget concerns arose, particularly after Washington and Scott's last collaboration, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, recently performed disappointingly at the box office ($100-plus million budget to a $61 million domestic box office performance).
Well, it appears that money has become too much of an issue around the movie - because Denzel Washington has reportedly dropped out of Unstoppable.
Variety is reporting (from "insiders close to the actor") that Washington has walked from Unstoppable and is currently looking for other projects to star in. Even though talks between Washington and Scott will go on this week as they promote Pelham internationally, the actor's reps confirm he's "available." There's no word on whether Chris Pine is still involved, but there's nothing to suggest he isn't at this point in time.
The Unstoppable budget is undoubtedly the thing that caused this whole problem with Washington: Sources say it was initially set at a whopping $107 million, but was later cut down to $100 million. However, Fox still wasn't happy with the budget being that high and reportedly wanted it further slashed to the "low" $90 million range. Scott was asked by the studio to cut his paycheck from $9 million to $6 million, which as far as we know, he accepted. Washington was asked to cut his huge $20 million paycheck to $16 million, but he declined.
So for now Washington remains a free player in the acting world. Who knows, maybe Scott and 20th Century Fox can convince him to come back (perhaps offering some sort of back-end revenue from the film's box office to compensate for his reduced upfront paycheck), and we'll see Washington become Unstoppable once more.
What I want to know is why Washington turned down the $16 million Fox were willing to pay him for the role. When you're the kind of actor that gets $20 million a film (and you wonder why your movie tickets cost so damn much?), what real difference does shaving $4 million off of that make? Is Washington hurting for cash, or is he just greedy? It seems extra strange that the actor would drop Unstoppable like this when it's his fifth collaboration with Tony Scott, a director he clearly likes to work with. I'm really curious to see what explanation Washington gives about the whole thing.
Stay tuned, folks.
What do you think of Denzel Washington no longer starring in Unstoppable? Do you think he was right for walking away?