It's been a busy Sunday for Paramount Pictures. "Paranormal Activity" has triumphed "Saw" at the box office, a sequel also appears to be in the works for the horror hit and now the studio has abruptly parted ways with director Kenny Ortega on the upcoming musical reboot of "Footloose."
Ortega, whose career got a major boost after he shepherded the first three "High School Musical" films, had been attached the project for over a year. Originally, his "HSM" breakout Zac Efron was set to play the role that made Kevin Bacon famous only to bow out last spring from musical (or would that be Ortega?) fatigue. "Gossip Girl's" Chace Crawford eventually won the role and it was announced production would begin once "Gossip's" season wrapped this March. Now, Variety reports Ortega has been let go over a disagreement regarding the budget and tone of the picture.
It appears Ortega wanted to make a traditional musical with elaborate numbers and was looking at a $30 million or so budget. The trade reports Paramount Pictures production head Adam Goodman wanted an edgier drama with less numbers at a cost of around $25 million. The disagreement waged for months until Ortega finally decided to ankle the project.
In a statement, Ortega's reps said:
"Coming off the extraordinary project, Michael Jackson's `This is It,' director Kenny Ortega has decided it is premature for him to commit to his next film and will not be moving forward with `Footloose' as previously reported."
"Michael Jackson's This Is It" is expected to open very strongly this week and could provide another kickstart for the filmmakers career. Ortega was originally brought in to help choreograph Jackson's tour, but after his death was recruited to edit the performance documentary.
No word on who Paramount will look at next to helm the musical, but if they truly want someone edgier they should consider Jake Nava who has made a name for himself with Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video or Adam Salky who helmed the Sundance Film Festival teen drama "Dare" with Emmy Rossum. More importantly, let's hope they stay away from "Fame's" Kevin Tancharoen as possible.
The studio still expects to begin shooting "Footloose" sometime this spring.
Who do you think should direct the new "Footloose"? Share your thoughts below.