If you only looked at the box office numbers, it would appear business is booming in Hollywood. And yet, left and right, projects are being postponed or outright canceled by the studios. Just this week, Legendary Pictures put the kibosh on the latest ill-advised blockbuster, a nine-figure adaptation of “Paradise Lost.” And now Sony is pulling an Old Yeller on two more projects, with Columbia Pictures halting an adaptation of the violent comic, “The Boys,” and genre shingle Screen Gems passing on kid-lit adaptation “The Mortal Instruments.”
“The Boys” always seemed more than a little unlikely to become a big film franchise. The edgy source material involves a team of government grunts keeping tabs on the reckless behavior of superheroes, and comedy director Adam McKay had been writing the screenplay with an eye to direct. McKay followed up his directorial debut, “Anchorman,” with three straight $100 million hits, and he reportedly had the attentions of his ideal casting choices – Simon Pegg and Russell Crowe. But the Garth Ennis-penned material was dark and very R-rated, and with a likely $100 million budget, it was always a long shot, even with super-producer Neal Moritz involved.
“The Mortal Instruments,” based on a series of young adult novels by Cassandra Clare, was meant to be the start of a new teen fantasy franchise in the vein of “Twilight.” Lily Collins was attached to play a teenage girl who teams with a renegade angel (Jamie Campbell Bower) in a war against demons. Collins had dropped out of the remake of “The Evil Dead” to shoot this picture, while Bower beat out fellow Teen Beat names like Alex Pettyfer and Ed Speleers. Constantin Films remain committed to making the film, though they’ll need to either find a co-financier or put up the money themselves, and they’ll have to do it without director Scott Stewart (“Legion“), who dropped out likely as a result of this move.
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Update: While Columbia isn’t interested. That doesn’t necessarily mean the project is a goner. McKay writes on Twitter, “The Boys film adaptation is not dead. Some studios interested. This could be the coolest super hero franchise out there.”