I’d love to know what the “creative differences” were that led to director J.C. Chandor walking off Lionsgate/Summit’s Deepwater Horizon, which will now be directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Battleship) starting in March. I asked around when I arrived at Burbank airport around noon today, but nobody replied. Fraidy cats. I’m presuming (and I know absolutely nothing) the split was about some aspect of Chandor’s integrity vs. some kind of issue about (a) truthfulness, perhaps related to some kind of threat or pressure from British Petroleum or related parties (who knows?), or (b) some kind of cost-cutting expediency on the part of Lionsgate/Summit. Somebody caved over something and Chandor said, “If that’s your decision I walk.” Something like that.
Director J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year, All Is Lost, Margin Call).
Chandor told me a bit about Deepwater when I ran into him at a N.Y. Film Festival screening of Inherent Vice four months ago. He also talked at some length about it with a Collider guy less than two months ago, describing where things were at and conveying great enthusiasm, etc. Whatever happened, it was something relatively recent, probably post-holidays, and of no small importance.
Chandor revealed “that they’re building a replica of the rig in the Six Flags Great Adventure parking lot, adding that the ‘big, dramatic blockbuster’ will focus on the events on the rig and is solely based on what factually happened during the event.
“I’m writing it right now,” Chandor explained. “So, I’m working with David Barstow, the original writer of the New York Times piece that it’s going to be based on, and he’s gone back and we’ve had this whole team of research assistants that have gone through like every public trial. It’s amazing working with them. It’s so fun. If I wrote that, you would not believe it so we’re literally just doing what happened. There’s sort of no other option. I mean, it’s BP, if we lied and made stuff up, we would be sued so…”
“[It’s from the perspective of everyone] that was on the rig. It’s just the rig though. So you’re on the rig. So it’s sort of a cross section of what happened that day, which is this unbelievable confluence of events, basically. Some BP execs land on the rig to like, give an award, but they’re not really there to give an award. They’re actually there to say ‘hurry up’ because they were tremendously behind schedule and literally it blows up a couple hours later. And then everyone has to get off.”
“I’m sort of structuring this film almost like this tragic sort of poem as to where human beings’ relationship with oil is right now, which is we need it, we love it, we want it, we’re using a lot of it and we’re running out of it, and that’s just the facts.”
“Everything in the movie will be what happened and Lionsgate is making a huge, exciting bet that there’s an audience out there for big, dramatic blockbuster; summer-type blockbuster storytelling. And I don’t think the movie’s coming out in the summer, but it’s a big ass movie but about real people, real things that happened on this planet right now and those are the kind of things I’m fascinated in so I feel humbled and honored to be given the chance in this day and age when most of the movies on that scale of storytelling are straight sort of entertainment – which this will be. You can’t make it up it’s so dramatic, but it’s also really interesting just about where we are right now with our relationship to oil. We’re building the set right now. I’m trying to hurry up and finish the script before they – it’s never good if the set is finished before the script is.”
“We’re building a rig in the parking lot and then gonna surround it in a huge tank of water. So we’re building the rig almost life-size based on the original plans, which are public record, so we’re literally building the rig in the Six Flags Great Adventure parking lot.”
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura previously told Collider that Deepwater Horizon “would be in the vein of A Perfect Storm, but the hiring of Chandor signals that Lionsgate is game to strive for something a bit more than just entertainment value”…hah!
Deepwater Horizon is slated to open in theaters on 9.30.16.