Why the Clock Ran Out on Kiefer Sutherland's '24' Movie

1:11 PM PST 03/14/2012 by Pamela McClintock
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

There's a rift between Imagine Entertainment and Fox over how much the feature adaptation of the hit TV series should cost. Barring a last-minute compromise, the project appears dead.

With studios getting ever tougher on production budgets, the film version of 24 appears all but scrubbed.

Two weeks ago, 20th Century Fox proposed a budget of $30 million for the feature, which would have Kiefer Sutherland return to the role of Jack Bauer for the first time since the long-running Fox television series ended in May 2010. Turning TV shows into big-screen properties can be tricky, and Fox wanted to protect its interests.

Imagine Entertainment, which produced the TV series for 20th Television and is behind the movie, wanted to spend more in the range of $50 million to $60 million. Fox had proposed paying Sutherland and director Antoine Fuqua $2 million each in exchange for a generous backend. Sutherland's camp wanted in the $3 million range.

It's always possible there could be a compromise, with both sides stressing that the numbers weren't set in stone. At the same, the growing consensus is that the project is close to being shelved and that any compromise needed to have happened by now.

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There are only seven weeks to prep for the film before Sutherland goes on hiatus from his new TV series Touch. If Fuqua doesn't shoot during Sutherland's break, it's likely the actor wouldn't be available until summer 2013.

Fox is leery about letting too much time lapse between the end of 24 and the release of the film in theaters, based on its experience with The X-Files

The first X-Files movie debuted in theaters in 1998, while the hit television show was still on the air. X-Files grossed a handy $189.2 million worldwide. The second film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, was released in 2008, six years after the show's final episode.

I Want to Believe fared poorly, grossing only $63.4 million worldwide, including a paltry $21 million domestically (Fox spent far less to make the second movie).

In addition, while Sutherland is considered an A-list television star, he hasn't starred in a hit film since the 1990s. And 24, while a big hit for Fox, had lost some of its audience by the time the drama finished its eight-season run. 

E-mail: Pamela.McClintock@thr.com

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