Why Jennifer Lawrence Walked Away From Sony's 'Rosie Project'

Jennifer Lawrence - H 2015
Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Sources say the actress, who was willing to cut her fee for the romantic dramedy directed by Richard Linklater, exited after a difficult negotiation with the studio's new chairman, Tom Rothman.

A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

On Oct. 13, Jennifer Lawrence published an essay in Lena Dunham's feminist newsletter Lenny titled, "Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co?Stars?" That same day, news surfaced that she dropped out of Sony's The Rosie Project for unknown reasons. It turns out a clue to Lawrence's abrupt exit could be found in her essay: "I didn't want to keep fighting over millions of dollars."

Two sources say the Hunger Games and Joy actress walked away from the high-profile project that was to be directed by Richard Linklater after a lengthy and difficult negotiation with Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman.

At the outset, Sony made it clear that the studio wasn't willing to shell out the same $20 million it was paying for Lawrence to star opposite Chris Pratt in its sci-fi project Passengers, and Lawrence is said to have been willing to reduce her upfront fee to work with Linklater in the romantic dramedy.

But the sources say the CAA-repped actress, fresh from a tough negotiation on Passengers, became frustrated as Rosie dealmaking dragged on and began to reevaluate her interest. "Rothman was doing a lot of grinding on The Rosie Project, and it took its toll," says a source with knowledge of the negotiations. "If it had been done more quickly, it wouldn't have fallen apart."

By contrast, Linklater's deal — he also is repped by CAA — was hammered out quickly. But Lawrence, 24, had pursued the Boyhood helmer and brought him in. So once she was out, he bailed, too. That left Rothman having to explain how he couldn't close a deal with Hollywood's biggest star, even at a discounted price. The project, based on a book by Graeme Simsion with a script by The Fault in Our Stars duo Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, would seem a promising piece of counterprogramming given its premise of an unconventional woman who upends the world of an unlucky-in-love university professor looking to find a wife through a foolproof questionnaire.

Adds one source, "The bottom line was she had too much time to think about it." Sony and CAA declined comment.