I’ve been writing about movies for a long time and I have seen a lot of long gestating passion projects come and go. However, one of the most interesting films never to be made has always been Warren Beatty’s film about Howard Hughes. Beatty has been developing the movie for over well over 20 years (I’ve been hearing stories of this since before the internet!) and it has finally started shooting.
Beatty likes to take time with his movies (he’s only made 7 films since 1980). He hasn’t been on the screen since Town And Country in 2001. That film was made under extreme circumstances (it was a very troubled production) and it cost a whopping $90 million – which is crazy money for a romantic comedy. When it was finally released, it bombed at the box office – grossing just $10 million globally and the critics gave it a major kicking. It’s actually an enjoyable movie, but Beatty retreated and it looked like he may never make another movie again.
A few years ago it looked like he was about to get his Hughes movie off the ground (much like Hughes’ famed Spruce Goose), but the financing fell through (studios just didn’t want to spend $40 million on a movie – with a real script). However, things have finally come together (Ron Burkle, Steve Bing, Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan, James Packer and Brett Ratner are funding it) and the film has started shooting. Beatty has written the script and he is also directing and producing the film which will co-star Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick. According to Deadline, ‘The focus of the film is the love story of the two younger characters’ and that Beatty will play Hughes.
It’s believed that the budget of the film is $26.7 million, pretty lean by today’s standards – but Beatty is a perfectionist and his films often go over budget and schedule. However, these overruns are never a bad thing when you look at the quality of his output (I will always defend Ishtar). There’s an intelligence in his films that a lot of Hollywood movies just don’t have anymore and that is why this project is so important.
There are a lot of parallels between Beatty and Hughes and it looks like this film will be avoiding a lot of the ground that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio covered in 2004’s The Aviator. Hughes is a fascinating character, a reclusive billionaire with a love of films and planes and a fear of germs. Many movies have covered his life, but none have been able to fully grasp the complexities of his character, but if anyone can do this, hopefully Beatty can.