Friday, October 19, 2007

Bye-Bye-Rella: Has Rose McGowan Crashed Robert Rodriguez' Career?

Dino De Laurentiis and Universal have dropped their Barbarella remake from Robert Rodriguez, and there are two reasons cited as why.

The New York Observer claim that Universal balked because Rodriguez insisted on casting McGowan in the title role. They quote a source (unnamed, of course) as saying "No one thinks Rose can carry the movie, but Robert won’t listen."

Rodriguez reportedly pins the issue on a budget dispute, and is quoted as saying "Universal had initially signed on for $60 million, but then when we were done with the script it wound up at closer to $82 million, and they had just financed a
Will Ferrell movie that was a $130 million and they even cut that down to $100.”

That would be Land of the Lost, a Will Ferrell movie that, for a while, Rodriguez was apparently attached to direct. Is there a general whiff of sour grapes in the background? Maybe - but only maybe.

It is a money issue, of course, I'm sure it is - all decisions in industry are, at heart - but that doesn't exclude Rose McGowan's suitability, or lack thereof, from the discussion. Maybe a Barbarella starring McGowan is worth no more that $60 million to the stuido; maybe they see a different lead, a starrier one, as a more reasonable gamble and worth a heftier punt.

I can't say I'd blame them for reading the odds this way. In purely financial terms, I think McGowan would hurt the film in comparison to, say, an Angelina Jolie figure - a pin-up People-magazine regular with wide awareness.
Rose McGowan's homebreaking antics couldn't even make front covers in the way that even the most minor comings, goings and hair stylings of, say, Jennifer Aniston, could.

I say all of this absolutely irrespective of who would be right for the role - and without having read the script, I don't feel qualified to make a judgment call on that, though I definitely don't think McGowan is necessarily, definitely 'wrong'.

Curiously, Rodriguez also claimed that Universal were wowed by McGowan's screen test - "blown over", apparently. This I find a little harder to believe. I think it would take a lot for a screen test to genuinely "blow over" a studio exec, if indeed it could ever be possible at all. Is it safe for execs to engage with films on that level? Surely being excited by the quality of a film, even the potential of a screen test, is kind of counter-productive to their job? I thought they were supposed to function like stone hearted actuaries. If 'Barbarella=Rose McGowan' doesn't add up to them on paper, why would execs expect it to add up in the marketing, the buzz, the imaginations of the least imaginative?

I'm sure Rodriguez will bounce back, though I doubt he'll ever again have the pull he once exercised with the Weinsteins, not anywhere, not with anyone. All the same, I know he's got plenty more wonderful films in him and whichever ones we do get to see, I'll be grateful for them.


Library Skiver said...

If I was making a BARBARELLA movie, I'd make it on the cheap, green screen a la SIN CITY or 300, with a MAXIM/GQ/ARENA favourite, some big tall blonde model with no compunctions about nudity. Like Peter Crouch's girlfriend. Her scouse accent would add a layer of mind-bending exotica. Then there'd be minimum studio interference, and it'd make all its money on DVD sales. To the hairy palms brigade.

LTAR said...

Wonderful films? do you guys say it...? That's complete bollocks. We may say...what a load of shit. (The remark and his movies.) This guy showed remarkable ingenuity in the nineties with El Mariachi and now he's made one decent film since. Wonderful films? I have yet to get a grasp on your tastes...maybe that's a good thing?

Brendon said...

After El Mariachi, I'd say that the first Spy Kids, Sin City, The Faculty and From Dusk 'Til Dawn were all particularly good.

At heart, Rodriguez is a great cameraman, not a great director - but he's such a good cameraman, it has helped his direction no end.

I can't tell you how disappointing I found Planet Terror.

edgeshat said...

library skiver,
I agree, they should hire a Maxim type model. Diora Baird I think would be a good choice for Barbarella, at least for her looks.

I think that's a fair assessment of Rodriguez even though I did enjoy Planet Terror a lot. However, I think Tarantino's Death Proof was much more creative and also more loyal to the genre.

Erik said...

Rodriguez and Rose are right. She was fucking DYNAmite in Grindhouse, and she'd be a dynamite Barbarella. The studios are wary because Grindhouse didn't do so hot at the box office. Fine-- it's their money. But anyone with actual taste when it comes to movies loved Grindhouse and McGowan.

LTAR said...

Astute observation about why he may be so successful. A little embarrassed I never thought of it. Guess it lends a bit more depth to the paperback cover of his first novel, huh? When he was holding the arm of the steadicam? And when he had that issue with the union crew...when they weren't going fast enough for him and he was taking some of their jobs and then filming the thing and the cameramen went apeshit.
But aren't all directors a way? Except the ones that aren't? I'm not trying to take anything away from cinematographers and the like, but if you're going to be a big-time director...shouldn't you be a little more well-rounded than a good cameraman? I think he slipped by in the hype of his early career.
Read his first book...fascinating chronicle of how Hollywood creates hype.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people underestimate the effect of Rose breaking up Robert's marriage will have on people seeing this film. I know it sounds crazy, but that was a really ugly separation from his wife, who helped him become the man/director he is today. She's a home wrecker. Not only does PerezHilton (and his millions of readers) post negative things about them, but the NY Times recently interview Robert's ex-wife and basically took her side. That negativity will spread to this film = people want to see them fail. Also, a $100 million sci-fi piece of camp is a terribly risky proposition. Think Pam Anderson in Barb Wire or Halle Berry/Sharron Stone in Catwoman. Barbarella is not a sure-fire title to remake. It's too sweet and campy, and Rose isn't hot enough to pull in the guys and the girls will be offended over her being a house breaker. This film is lose-lose situation.