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Annapurna Pictures Drops Out Of ‘Side Effects’ Over Casting; Potential Options Emerge, While Catherine Zeta-Jones Joins Cast

Annapurna Pictures Drops Out Of 'Side Effects' Over Casting; Potential Options Emerge, While Catherine Zeta-Jones Joins Cast

Well, that was quick. Just one week after announcing it had signed on with Open Road, the distributors of Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller, “Side Effects,” Megan Ellison’s Annapurna pictures has backed out of the project (however, Open Road is staying put). It’s not all gloom and doom for “Side Effects” though, as Soderbergh’s “Traffic” co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones has just signed onto the project (via Deadline).

Variety‘s report doesn’t state reasons why Annapurna backed away, but well-placed sources tell us it had to do with the casting of Blake Lively as a troubled young woman who develops a dangerous love triangle between her doctor (Jude Law) and her newly paroled husband (Channing Tatum). Zeta-Jones, whose husband Michael Douglas is a frequent Soderbergh collaborator, would play another of Lively’s doctors. Insiders tell us, despite the setback, financing should be locked back into place shortly, foreign sales are already taken care of, and an April start date in New York City is still a go. The big question is whether or not Lively will stick around (or if another studio also isn’t super keen on her leading the picture, as Annapurna weren’t), but a number of potential names are already being spit-balled in case she doesn’t, including Rooney MaraMichelle Williams and two females that were being eyed for supporting roles in Soderbergh’s now defunct version of “The Man From Uncle,” Emily Blunt and Imogen Poots.

Studios that were interested (before Annapurna, Summit and Paramount) each had their sometimes divided thoughts on who should lead the cast. Variety seems to think that the financing shake-up could jumble the entire cast, which is possible, as it eventually became a perfect mix-and-match (under the director’s eyes anyhow) but right now we’re hearing the biggest question mark, if there is one at all, is Lively. Frankly, it’s a disappointing move by Annapurna. “Green Lantern” wasn’t great, obviously, but Lively deeply impressed in “The Town,” the very underseen, “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee,” and Soderbergh obviously has an eye for talent that hasn’t quite blossomed.

More on this one as it develops.

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Blake Lively "deeply impressed" in the Town??? is that a joke…? she was awful. let's face it this movie would NOT have worked with lively in the lead, rooney mara is literally infinitely better.

Edward Davis

So yeah, to all the doubters. Told ja.

Haters always hating

Clark, how about you let the directors decide who should be in their movies, not the message board commandos. Get it? Obviously some big name directors don't agree with your assessment of her acting. She's young, and unproven, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have potential. That's what they see in her. Megan Ellison was way out of line here, especially given her background. The arrogance of your post though, believing that you know more than A-list Academy Award winning directors, is breath taking. It's the kind of arrogance you'd read on gossip sites, which is why I wrote that. Making films are risky no matter what, that's the way it goes. I oppose, on principle, having financiers dictate to directors who they should or shouldn't hire though. If this were some other actor that weren't in tabloids there would be universal outrage at the financier. But because it's Blake Lively and people have opinions on her personal life and whatnot you seem to think this action was justified and that's why I call bull shit on your feigned outrage against Lively. You don't like her? Stop reading tabloids and/or watching Gossip Girl. After all, how did Michelle Williams start out again? Oh ya, as the third lead in a forgettable shallow teenage TV show. Up until a year ago Rooney was known for B-type horror flicks. They all start somewhere. Stop being an ass.

Haters always hating

Some people act like they are personally offended by Steven Soderbergh wanting Blake Lively. So the haters here know more about making films than: Steven Soderbergh, Oliver Stone, Ben Affleck, and Rebecca Miller (Daniel Day-Lewis' wife and daughter of Arthur Miller). You don't like her, why? Because you don't like her character on TV or that she's covered in tabloids? Get over yourselves, please. Blake hasn't done anything to you and you have nothing invested in this. If Soderbergh wants Lively then so be it, he's the director. It's his choice. This is a movie blog, not Just Jared. If you want to trash celebrities you don't like, do so over there.


"Soderbergh obviously has an eye for talent that hasn't quite blossomed."

Enter: Channing Tatum. Exit: All believability.


I do not believe this rumour. It would be so out of this world. Many films which made the history of cinema had lead actors who were taken from the street. If a director is good, he can literally draw blood out of stones. In Europe nobody would dream to challenge the choice of a lead by a director, since a film is the director's baby. I read an interview to Sean Penn, who is undoubtedly the most gifted American actor, where he mentions that the prerequisite of a successful actor is 'watchability', which according to him is not related to beauty or talent. I think that Lively is in a way more watchable than some of the actresses mentioned in some of these posts as very talented and more deserving. Who the heck knew who Rooney Mara was before The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (not a blockbuster, by the way) anyway? Just the Facts: I could not agree with you more.

Just the facts

I don't believe any of this nonsense about Blake Lively either. There's nothing more dumb than message board hate. Jesus, it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between gossip sites and legitimate film sites these days. Annapurna knew Blake was in when they originally agreed to finance. This decision came on Friday NIGHT, that should tell you everything. Friday was the day Steven Soderbergh's latest movie opened. It didn't open well. That's why this has happened, Annapurna probably wanted a smaller budget. It's so awesome that playlist is now starting rumors.


If any of this Blake Lively BS is true (I highly doubt it is), if Oliver Stone can knock SAVAGES out of the park I would not be surprised to see people change their tune.

Team Blake

When did Megan Ellison become such an expert on acting that she could tell an Academy Award winning director who he could or could not hire? Wasn't Megan Ellison dancing on top of bar tables and making out with girls in front of paparazzi just two years ago?


Deeply impressive in The Town?? All she did was mumble for five minutes. You aren't thinking with your brain when it comes to Blake Lively.


Blake Lively was not impressive at all in the Town – a completely forced and bland performance. Ditto for Pippa Lee. She's completely OVERRATED and thats not because of Gossip Girl, thats because of her acting.

A Baby Named Jesus

If this is true I am extremely disappointed in Megan Ellison. After all, prior to committing to PTA's THE MASTER all she was ever known for was being a spoiled rich party girl who went LA club hopping. If her father wasn't super loaded would we even be talking about her at all? Her involvement financing one or two big time pictures doesn't give her the gravitas to suddenly cast such aspersions against others. After all, Megan has not proven herself yet either.

Blake Lively is young and still unproven too, but she has shown that she can act when given the right material. This was way off base for Megan Ellison, IMO. Get over yourself please.


Lol @ two Oscar nominees being replacements for Teen Choice Award winner Blake Lively. Williams' needs to stay away from troubled women roles because she's done that. She's way too talented to stick to the same ol'. Give it to Mara, let her fade away.


Wait- Michelle Williams is a BACKUP for BLAKE LIVELY? Are you serious?

And no Blake Lively is not a good actress. She was mediocre at best in The Town (her accent was the only thing that sounded inauthentic) and she has been consistently bland and mumbly in every film. But pairing up with Channing Tatum is a great idea- two failures in one film! Woo hooooooo.

(That was very harsh but I can't believe Michelle Williams and Blake Lively were in the same sentence… had to get my anger out. Apologies Playlist. You are kind souls.)


Don't want to complain about Ellison after she has funded the projects of so many great filmmakers. She's got to know, however, that if you're going to work with The Bergh, you've got to trust him. His quirky casting is part of the deal.


I don't get what all the hate for Blake Lively is about, and it's very short sighted if you ask me. Everyone starts somewhere. Everyone criticizing her for her show Gossip Girl, give me a break. Guess where Williams started? As a main character on teen drama similar to Gossip Girl. Get over yourselves and stop prematurely judging people. I say they have some integrity and stick with their choice of Lively. She can act. Anyone who has see two of the above mentioned movies (The Town and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee) can attest to that.


Why would they choose a bad tv teen show actress known for her bed hopping over Rooney or Williams who can act?? Smart move to pull out.


Who chooses Blake Lively over Megan Ellison('s money)?!! This is not an artistic hill you stand and die on. It makes no financial or artistic sense at all. Also might Variety's "jumbling of the cast" result in Channing Tatum falling out and into a bottomless pit of forgetfulness, or is Steven's new bff welded to his side now?


Something is off here. They presumably knew the cast when they decided to back it and announce it to the public.


There has been so many films moved and cancelled in the last month..I don' t think
rooney or michelle williams or emily were originally available to shoot a movie in the spring. things change and it all opens up a lot of possibilities. read an early draft of this was fun


Love Rooney!!!


Love Rooney, but why is she more bankable than a TV star? Got excited for Lively to break out with this role.


Begs the question why Mara and Williams weren't cast ahead of Lively in the first place. But Mara may need to take a break from playing troubled young women.

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