By: Mac Maclamore
First, I want to go on record that this is not a rumor I’ve heard from anyone except Jimmy Simpson sitting across from me in the office. However, because I think it’s absolutely genius, I am now sharing it with you.
Earlier today news started to slip out via Variety that Warner Brothers was going to let their “progress-to-production option” on 2011 Hit List & Black List topper THE IMITATION GAME expire.
My first thoughts… “THIS IS INSANE!”
Remember, upon arrival to the spec market, and just before topping both of the year end “best of” lists, Warners aggressively outbid several other potential buyers for a project that had Leonardo DiCaprio eyeing a starring role, and at the time of sale, both Ron Howard and David Yates eyeing the directors chair (months later the studio would decide to go with director J. Blakeson).
So what went wrong? With the combo of DiCaprio, an exceptional script from Graham Moore, and Warners backing it all… we’re looking at at least three Oscar nominations come Spring 2014 – four if Blakeson proved he belonged.
But the buzz around town tends to tell us that DiCaprio’s “passion” to make this project work with his schedule started to slip earlier this year. Coincidentally, right around the time Blakeson, a newcomer with only one feature (The Disappearance of Alice Creed) under his belt stepped in. Perhaps this is just people looking for answers where there are none – or where the pathetic industry excuse of “scheduling issues” actually really did become an issue. But, none of that is really relevant any longer. Now, lets look to the future – a DiCaprio, Warners, Blakeson free zone.
Where will “The Imitation Game” end up?
The script alone screams “Critically acclaimed”, “Oscar Nominated”, etc. etc. Truth be told, it wasn’t just the best script in Hollywood last year… it may have been the best in a decade. All of that coming from a guy who has zero invested in the subject matter, but fell head over heels for it nonetheless. So, who wants the acclaim of a prestige piece that just may make you some money along the way?
Why? Because some time ago when Harvey and Bob created Miramax and made a little pocket change, this was the exact type of film they set out to make – smart, emotional, actor/director/writer bait films that actually meant something. And this film would require so very little of the so called “Harvey bullying” to get votes. Make this film, and the voters will do the rest. But if DiCaprio is in fact out, even after the Blakeson exit (which will still do not know if that will or will not happen), who should step in to fill the shoes of “Turing”?
Seriously, look at this picture below and dare to tell me he doesn’t perfectly fit the role of the awkward genius cryptographer Alan Turing.
Hell, the hair alone could play half of this role perfectly. And the other big upside of losing Warners & DiCaprio… this film suddenly cost about 60% less to make without losing a damned thing!
DiCaprio is amazing. Fact. But the role is written so amazingly well any actor in Hollywood would be salivating just to get a shot at it… but casting a relative unknown… you all but guarantee a Best Picture win at the end of the year! And giving Whishaw his first breakout role – you’ve got a go to guy for the rest of his blossoming A-list career!
Lastly… director. Lets assume Blakeson exits the project as it exits Warners hands. Lets assume the producers, Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky (both relative newcomers themselves), look to stack their roster and fully realize the project they have on their hands. Where do you go next?
The guy doesn’t need the money, so that is not whats going to drive him to join your film. What will drive him is an amazing script… which “IG” (that ‘Imitation Game’ for all you cool kids) has for days and days. Now add in the fact he just wrapped up on the new Bond flick “Skyfall” which our friend Mr. Ben Whishaw also happened to just wrap up, and I’m excited for the possibilities. Mendes also brings his experience in period settings (Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road) and his ability to tell an evocative, emotional journey in anything he touches (see his entire resume thus far).
So Nora… Ido… it’s your time to shine! Go get that Oscar!
I like your ideas but I’m not sure Whipshaw would be enough to anchor a project with (presumably) that much turnaround money attached. Plus, the Variety article alluded to an option–what kind of option is this when Warner Bros. already purchased it? Is there a complication with the underlying rights?
Right on all counts here. Perfect director and actor for this. Mind the budget…and everything falls into place. It’s Oscar nom time. This is one project LEO shoulda cleared everything else away for. Wtf?