Kiefer Sutherland is furious at 20th Century Fox, which has called a halt to the movie version of his hit television show, “24,” over budget and star salary issues, TheWrap has learned.
The movie based on the conspiracy-terrorism-action show was in pre-production and set to start shooting next month, but has now ground to a halt because Fox will greenlight a budget no higher than $30 million, while Sutherland and producer Brian Grazer feel the budget needs to be in the low $40s at its tightest.
A Fox spokesman confirmed that the movie was on hold, and said it was related to timing.
“We’re still working on a script, and hope to make [it] when Kiefer next has time,” said the spokesman. “But this all came down to timing, and seven weeks is not enough time to prep a movie like this.”
But insiders on the project refuted that version of the situation. According to them, the Fox television star feels insulted that Fox has offered him a relatively measly salary of $1 million to do the movie. Update: A Fox insider says that this fee was proposed, but it came in the context of negotiations over the fee, which is weighted toward a reward on the back end. In another round, the insider said, Fox offered $2 million.
Sutherland, who has helped Fox make hundreds of millions of dollars off the hit show and is represented by CAA, wanted $5 million. (He is also the producer.)
Talks between the two sides continued up until the last 24 hours, with Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman getting involved, according to individuals with knowledge of the situation. One of those told TheWrap that the sides would be meeting via conference call on Wednesday to try to work out their differences, though that meeting was not confirmed by other participants.
Sutherland’s agency CAA had no immediate comment, nor did his management.
The “24″ budgeting problem may cause potential problems with the Fox Television Network, which needs Sutherland for its new television series, “Touch.” That show debuts March 22, and Sutherland recently returned from travelling abroad to promote it.
“24″ was meant to go into production in April, when “Touch” went on hiatus, according to a television studio spokesman.
Now all of that has been thrown into question, and all of the talent attached is apparently furious.
Overall, Sutherland ‘s impression was that “the studio didn’t seem to be paying attention or be consistent with notes and thoughts,” said one person in his camp. In other words, the guy feels dissed.
I know times are tough in this business, but I can’t quite figure out why Fox would nickel-and-dime a star like Sutherland, whose show has an international as well as a strong domestic audience.
Yes, Sutherland has gotten inordinately wealthy off the series and, yes, star fees have come down in recent years -– but still.
Individuals involved with the movie pointed out that Fox has gone through similar troubles in the past and its reputation has been hurt as a result.
Said one of those individuals: “At the end of day it’s not only hard to make movies at Fox specifically, but it’s also no fun.”