Roger Ailes Movie Dropped by Annapurna Days Before Production Start (Exclusive)

Mike Marsland/WireImage; Andrew Toth/FilmMagic
John Lithgow is set to play Roger Ailes in the untitled movie about Fox News.

Sources say Focus Features, Amblin and Participant Media are in the mix to acquire.

Two weeks before production is set to begin, Annapurna Pictures is unloading the untitled Fox News movie centered on the late Roger Ailes, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. 

Bron Studios, the Canada-based company behind Fences and The Birth of a Nation, has come on to co-finance production, sources say, while Focus Features, Amblin and Participant Media are in the mix to acquire.

It is unclear why Megan Ellison's Annapurna would part ways with the hot-button project that Jay Roach will direct, but a source says it was regarding budget issues. The film's budget is said to be $35 million. Another source disputed that, saying the film was under budget.

The move comes as a surprise given that casting for the film continued up until yesterday, when Malcolm McDowell signed on to play Rupert Murdoch.

John Lithgow already has committed to playing the disgraced Fox News chairman who was accused of sexually harassing many women at the network. Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie (who will play Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson and an associate producer, respectively) round out the all-star cast.

Annapurna had been financing and producing the project, which it planned to distribute. The Big Short's Charles Randolph wrote the screenplay.