Back in February, we reported that Shawn Levy was the latest director to board the James Cameron-produced 3D remake of Fantastic Voyage. The original 1966 film was about a group of scientists who shrink down into a miniature submarine and enter the body of an important diplomat in order to save his life. The new project would be expensive (of course) but could also be a big hit for Fox with James Cameron’s pedigree (look how it worked out for Sanctum!) and Levy’s track record with the studio (the Night at the Museum movies, Cheaper by the Dozen, Date Night). But Levy wants a big name star and originally was courting his Real Steel leading man Hugh Jackman.
Levy is reportedly getting impatient at the project’s lack of momentum (big budget blockbusters can require time to get off the ground? Who knew!) and now he wants Will Smith to star…or else. Hit the jump for more and why this is insane.
According to THR, Levy wants a big name star for the lead but Fox would be fine without an A-list star (and his gigantic paycheck) toplining the movie. I’ve never heard of this before. I’ve heard of a studio demanding that the director gets a star (see Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity). I’ve heard of directors who won’t do a film unless they can get his top choice because they believes that actor of actress is the only one who can do the role justice. But I’ve never heard of a director saying “I want an A-list star just because.” Is Levy afraid that the lack of a star will cause his movie to flop? Is it because he wants to build a relationship with a major talent? Whatever the cause, it seems like Levy is making this demand not because it will improve his film, but because it could potentially improve his career.
Levy has a meeting with Smith in a couple weeks and if Smith decided to sign on, Fox would certainly be happy to have him star no matter his price tag. But if he doesn’t sign on (or Fox can’t make a deal) and the studio and Levy can’t find a mutually-agreeable actor, then Levy will likely move on. And the truly shitty thing about this is that Levy—a director with no discernable talent beyond cranking out lowest-common denominator fare—has plenty of options.
Personally, I don’t really care if a Fantastic Voyage movie gets made or not. I was excited for it when Paul Greengrass was circling the movie because I like Paul Greengrass and I was bummed when passed on it. But I don’t care about Levy and it seems petty that he’ll walk off the movie just because he can’t get an expensive A-lister on board even though Fox would be willing to give the greenlight with a well-known but more affordable actor.