It’s been a tough haul getting Bruce Willis’ proposed remake of Death Wish to the screen. Initially Joe Carnahan was to direct, but then that fell through. Recently Big Bad Wolves directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado joined the project. Now it looks like that has fallen through as well.
The official reason cited for this is merely a simple “creative differences”. But Deadline has a translated social media post from the filmmakers that really spell those creative differences out, and it’s worth reading in full:
Relief. Finally a bit of breathing room. You probably remember that a few months ago we were bombarded with greetings and congratulations on receiving our first Hollywood job, Death Wish. You might also remember that Navot and I insisted not to comment on the story or on any of your excited posts about it… not even with a “like”.
It’s not like we became snobs overnight. And it’s not like anybody prevented us from speaking out, it’s just that we found ourselves in a terrible situation. On the one hand, we were indeed offered a dream job, we were indeed offered a legendary salary, and we did indeed pass a stressful and amazing audition with the presidents of MGM and Paramount, and we even met and got the approval of one of the toughest most intimidating stars in Hollywood… yes, yes, Bruce Willis himself saw Big Bad Wolves and thought we were the right people for this violent mission.
On the other hand, the news caught us by surprise, because in reality there were huge differences between our vision and the vision of the studio with the famous roaring lion… we wanted to stay away from the original and problematic (albeit fun to watch) Michael Winner film, and move more towards the spirit of the original novel by Brian Garfield – an excellent minimalist novel that never got the cinematic treatment it deserved. We wanted to follow the vision of the director who originally was set to make it, but ultimately was not allowed to – Sidney Lumet. Lumet wanted to direct a film about a simple man, he even thought of Jack Lemmon for the lead, which experiences a terrible tragedy and then falls to the depths of hell. When we imagined the thriller in our minds we thought Taxi Driver, Falling Down… with a bloodcurdling finale like Sicario.
Unfortunately, the time table for the project did not allow us to make the big changes we wanted to make to the script, and as time passed we realized that we were not going to get what we wanted for this project.
Last night, after long deliberations we finally decided to leave the project.
It was not easy.
To know that you’re giving up money, fame, the opportunity to work with a big star… that you’re kicking the door in Hollywood’s face… knowing that you’re disappointing everybody who supported and encouraged you and wanted you to fulfill your dreams –
All this can really mess with your head and make you doubt yourself. And so it did. But anybody who knows us even for a minute, knows that we’ve never compromised on our vision.
These were three grueling months, three month during which time I walked around wearing sunglasses because I was afraid to answer uncomfortable questions.
Today I can finally take them off and say thank you for your support, your embrace and all the love.
So what now?
A little peace and quiet, a lot of patience and above all, love
Reading that just makes the whole thing even more disappointing. It sounds like they wanted to make a for real great Death Wish movie with a fresh angle on the story (even though Bruce Willis seems too tough for that from the get-go). Not only are we not getting that film, but this feels like confirmation that whoever does get the job will only do so by delivering something relatively typical. It’s too bad. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to read something so candid.