Robert Rodriguez is one of those directors who is going to be exceptionally busy with the amount of stuff he has coming up. He has his first ever venture into the sci-fi genre with a film called Nerverackers due out next year, he has his full-length version of Machete in development, and then there's his reboot of the Predator franchise retitled Predators (although he's not actually directing it, he'll still be heavily involved). If he's to satisfy fan demand, he'll also get going with the sequel to Sin City as well, even though he's said it'll be a long way away.
Out with all of those, another project that Rodriguez has said he'll bring to us is a remake (or update, or new adaptation, or whatever you wanna' call it...) of Barbarella, which was originally set to star Rose McGowan (whom he left his wife of over 10 years for, but quickly broke up with... leaving McGowan out of the Barbarella gig). Even with McGowan gone, it still looked like Barbarella was in the works by Rodriguez. Well, for those who were looking forward to his take on it, I'm afraid I have some disheartening news: the project is officially dead.
While promoting the Blu-ray release of Sin City, Rodriguez told MTV news that his Barbarella movie is dead, that's after years of saying he'll be making it eventually. Originally, Universal were the ones going to be putting up the cash for the film, but reportedly it got to a whopping $80 million budget (for Barbarella... seriously?) and in learning from the whole financial failure of Grindhouse, Universal bailed.
So on Rodriguez went to look for the money elsewhere...
He found another company willing to finance the film, but apparently there was a catch, a catch Rodriguez refused:
"It came to the point where [a company from] Germany offered us a $70 million budget, which would have been by far the biggest budget I ever would have had for a movie... But I had to shoot it in Germany and post it in Germany. Nothing against Germany, but I have five kids and I was like, ‘God, I don't know if we can do that. I don't know if I can be away that long.'"
So that was that at that particular point in time, and sadly (both for us and Rodriguez personally) he moved on to other things that seemed like more of a possibility:
"It was a real bummer... We had all this artwork and screen tests of what it would look like. It was a really cool, R-rated, sexy-almost like that [1981 animated] movie, ‘Heavy Metal'-version of a ‘Star Wars' movie. Something that no one ever could get to see. It was gonna be really great."
The artwork Rodriguez mentions is something he hopes to release at some point so that people can see what he had in mind for his take on the character:
"People said, ‘Why are you doing ‘Barbarella?'... And I showed them the artwork and explained it. They would go, ‘Ooooh, okay!'"
He finished with letting us in on part of the reason he wanted to make a Barbarella movie in the first place:
"After ‘Sin City,' I was looking through all my comic collection to see, ‘Well, what else might I make?' The only other thing that I had tons of were Heavy Metal magazines. I said, ‘I wanna make a Heavy Metal movie!' And ‘Barbarella' fit the bill because you could have everything in that movie."
Well, there you go.
That's a real shame, as if any director alive today could put a cool, modern stamp on the character (while undoubtedly staying true to the spirit of the '68 original), Rodriguez would be certainly be one of the very few. As an overall project, I find it a bit hard to imagine what a 21st century Barbarella movie would be like - the character to me is not one suited to this current movie going age.
The reason Grindhouse worked is the whole point of it was that it was a throwback to those types of movies from the '70s and early '80s, with the audience actually feeling like they've been transported to a grubby old grindhouse theater 30-odd years in the past. But would that have been the same mentality employed for Barbarella? If it was then it may work (should I now say "may have worked"?), but as a straight movie I just don't know.
The German company that offered Rodriguez the $70 million budget remains unnamed, but I would really like to know if they were one of the people who didn't see Grindhouse, or at least didn't see how poorly it performed at the box-office. As I said, the reason Universal bailed was because the budget got too high, and they saw that with the financial failure of Grindhouse that a Barbarella movie with that high of a budget wouldn't be financially successful. Even with someone as savvy about this type of movie as Rodriguez being behind the camera, they probably thought it just wasn't worth it.
Barbarella is probably just a casualty of Rodriguez wanting to juggle a lot of projects at the one time, and the ones that were more immediately possible just won out over it. I hope once he gets a lot of the stuff on his horizon finished, that he can revisit this project. I am very curious to see just what it would look like.
Are you disappointed that Rodriguez's Barbarella movie is now not happening? Would you like it if someone else took on the project instead?
Source: MTV Movies Blog