James Mangold's Patty Hearst movie has been cancelled by 20th Century Fox, following a damning statement from Hearst herself. The untitled film was based on the biography written by author Jeffrey Toobin and was expected to start shooting later this year. Fox officially released a statement to confirm its cancellation, shortly after Hearst's comments were reported in the media.
Hearst is the granddaughter of American publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, who became infamous during 1974-75 when she was kidnapped by a group of revolutionaries calling themselves the ‘Symbionese Liberation Army’. She seemingly became part of the group itself and aided with bank robberies and other activities. When she was taken into custody in 1975, she stated that she had been forced to comply and had been brainwashed. She was subsequently convicted and served 22 months in jail for armed robbery.
Following the huge success of Logan, Mangold had been linked to a number of major projects with this biopic being one of them. He had signed on to direct and principal photography was due to start in Spring. Actress Elle Fanning (The Beguiled) was due to play the part of Hearst, along with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (soon to be seen as Black Manta in Aquaman) playing Donald Defreeze, the leader of the revolutionaries. Although the production was never given a official title, it was said to be heavily sourced from Toobin’s 2016 book American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst. Following critical comments from Hearst regarding the project, THR reports that the studio gave this simple but decisive statement:
“Twentieth Century Fox Film and its production partners have decided to cancel the studio’s planned project based on the book American Heiress.”
Hearst has said that she felt compelled to speak up about the film and an imminent CNN documentary, following Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes and the effects of the #MeToo movement. She said that she was 'saddened and appalled' by both the film and the documentary, saying that both productions were 'romanticizing' her ordeal. She also lambasted Toobin for his involvement, saying:
"I refuse to give Jeffrey Toobin, 21st Century Fox, CNN or anyone else involved in these projects about my life the power to make me a victim again, or the power to provide a platform where victim blaming is OK.”
As it stands, CNN is still expected to air their upcoming show called The Radical Story of Patty Hearst, which is due to screen on February 11, and have yet to give an official response to the criticism. Mangold still has many other upcoming directorial projects on his roster, including an adaptation of The Force and a film based on the children's book Crenshaw. He has also been working on the script for an X-23 spinoff movie, based around Logan's version of the character.