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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aronofsky fills his dance card

Source: RiskyBizBlog

Darren Aronofsky likely will dance with swans — but what will it mean for his grappling with cyborgs?

The director is on the verge of a deal that would have him helming passion project “Black Swan” later this year, likely with Fox Searchlight. While a few budget and financing issues on the Natalie Portman-toplined supernatural drama still have be to ironed out, people familiar with the situation say Aronofksy and the Fox specialty unit, which released his film “The Wrestler,” are near a deal to collaborate on the film.

But a fall start for that project throws into question Aronofsky’s involvement on “Robocop,” the MGM reboot of the 1987 hit that has been a highly anticipated project for both MGM and the fanboy universe.

"Your move, studio creep."

Aronfosky and writer David Self have been working closely to hone ideas on the action reboot. Though it would be a tight fit, MGM could essentially hit the pause button until early-mid 2010, when Aronofsky is finished with “Swan,” and still make its 2011 release-date target. But insiders in the rep community say the studio has also quietly put out feelers for other directors who could come on to “Robocop” in case the timing doesn't work out.

MGM declined comment on the story.

MGM has been cautious about the number of movies it's releasing, and is concentrating at the moment on projects such as the 80's reboot "Red Dawn," the male-centric comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and a “Poltergeist” reboot.

That could mean the Mary Parent-run studio could afford to wait on “Robocop” -- but it would mean putting on hold a potential tentpole for a slate that isn’t currently stacked with them. Other projects, like "Bond 23" and the Robert Ludlum property "The Matarese Circle," are still a few years away.

Aronofsky, known for working slowly as he carefully hones projects in development, has not signed on to any other pictures post-"Wrestler," a fall breakout that grossed $26 million domestically and picked up multiple Oscar noms.

He and his Protozoa Picture have, however, been shopping "Black Swan," about a woman in the New York City ballet who may or may not be imagining things about an apparent rival. The director would work off a script written by Mark Heyman, a development exec with Protozoa. (In an interesting side note, Mike Medavoy's Phoenix Pictures is involved with "Robcop" and also is producing "Swan.")

The dance project has attracted the interest of a number of studios and specialty divisions, though some were also concerned about the budget for a project with prestige elements. Searchlight has been in the pole position to land the project and has been attempting to work out budget issues in recent months.

Paul Verhoeven's "Robocop," in which a murdered Detroit cop comes back re-engineered as a cyborg, stood as a symbol of 1980's action when Orion released the film. There were several sequels over the years, but a reboot has never gotten off the ground.

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