May 22, 2012 4:48pm PT by Borys Kit
Disney Halts Big-Budget 'Order of the Seven' Movie (Exclusive)
Disney has put Order of the Seven, its planned Asia-set adventure movie, on hold indefinitely.
Saoirse Ronan was set to star and Michael Gracey was to make his directorial debut on the project, which has been in development at the studio for more than a decade and was, according to several sources, hoping to start production as soon as this summer in London.
The project, which began life as a Snow White retelling, was in the midst of finding an international cast to play a band of warriors tasked with protecting a young woman. And even as late as last week, the studio hired Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Iron Man) to polish the script.
But now sources at Disney say that all development work is being stopped. That's an abrupt about-face, even though the project was not officially greenlighted and the studio had not set a release date. Seven was in preproduction and expected to go before the cameras this year.
Sources say that in the aftermath of the mega-budgeted John Carter failing at the box office in March, Disney has been scrutinizing budgets on its tentpole movies. The budget on Seven, while undisclosed, was high enough to give the studio pause. Having a first-time director involved contributed to the unease.
Also adding to the uncertainty is the lack of a studio head. Rich Ross, who was overseeing development of Seven, resigned as studio chief in April after Disney announced it would suffer a $200 million write-down on John Carter. Disney CEO Bob Iger has not named a replacement for Ross.
Order of the Seven initially was set up by producer Andrew Gunn as a live-action kung fu take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but later evolved into a fantasy-action adventure tale. The story centered on a young woman in 19th century Hong Kong who escapes her wicked stepmother and takes refuge with seven men belonging to an ancient order dedicated to fighting demons and dragons.
This isn’t the first time Disney has put the brakes on a project over budget concerns. Last year the studio reined in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced The Lone Ranger, only to give it the greenlight once the cost of the adventure pic starring Johnny Depp was trimmed.
In fact, budgets are being scrutinized all over Hollywood. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. put its medieval adventure Arthur & Lancelot on hold, resurrected it and then put it on hold again. Universal last year shelved its anticipated adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, even with the involvement of Ron Howard. A ballooning budget was cited as the reason.