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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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