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Nicolas Winding Refn Exits ‘The Equalizer’ With Denzel Washington

Nicolas Winding Refn Exits 'The Equalizer' With Denzel Washington

It looks like Nicolas Winding Refn is starting the New Year by wiping the slate clean. “Only God Forgives” is gearing up to arrive this spring, with briefest of teaser trailers landing last weekend. And though he signed up for his first Hollywood movie back in July 2012, it seems Refn has thought things over.

Collider reports that Sony wasn’t able to close the deal with Refn to have him direct “The Equalizer” starring Denzel Washington. Based on the 1980s TV series which starred Edward Woodward, the story focuses on a man who works as a freelance “fixer,” as he tries to atone for his dark and mysterious past when he worked for an outfit known as The Company. The project has been brewing for a while now, with Paul Haggis and Russell Crowe once set as director and star.

There’s no word yet on who will step in, but we’d wager a decision will have to come soon if Sony wants to keep things on track for a 2014 release. Plans are still afoot to begin lensing in May, and as for Refn’s exit? No specific reason was given, but that spring start date seems like it could have been a scheduling crunch, but he’ll likely clear things up soon enough.

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The reality is that Refn is not really a director who is compatible with big studio productions and their vision of the film. As Drive and Bronson have showcased he's a unique talent with a very specific vision for his films which are not necessarily commercially viable.

Dean Patterson

Wow! GANDERMAN…your suggestions are spot on! I loved this show back in the day and I'm stoked at the thought of a big screen revival. Refn was NOT the guy for this gig. I love his work, but I don't think he's a good fit for this property.


Offer it to Spike! He made a kick-ass genre pic out of INSIDE MAN with Denzel, and you know he knows his way around New York City. And if Denzel drops out, maybe his INSIDE co-star Clive Owen could step in. (The original Robert McCall was a middle-aged Englishman, after all.) Or, since QT was unable to make CASINO ROYALE happen and ultimately passed on THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., let this be his (kinda-sorta) spy vehicle. I'd like to see what he could do with NYC locations. And leave it him to cast someone unexpected as McCall — maybe Hugh Laurie? Or Helen Mirren? ;-)


Sounds interesting, but then could have been as other people said, a basic action vehicle. Refn leaving has taken out most interest out of the film, unless they can find a director that can generate as much interest. Like others, maybe Logans Run or the Drive Sequel should be next.

Dennis Harvey

Good. This sounds like a pretty generic action vehicle, and Refn is so good he really shouldn't waste his time on stuff like that.


I love the idea of a Refn/Washington pairing on …. something.

Hombre Gato

Schedule crunch sounds like a pretty good reason in this instance. Nic mentions his wife and daughters very often in his interviews and I think it's especially difficult for him to be away from them too long. BUT… I hope it's indication of Only God Forgives shaping up well enough that he believes a better project will be offered.


Glad he passed on this. I would rather see Refn create his own material.


No way, this is BOGUS, man!


Films Refn could tackle next: I Walk with the Dead, Logan's Run or Button Man.

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