Earlier this week while talking to one of our favorite directors, David Cronenberg, about the upcoming DVD/Blu-ray release of his underrated 2012 gem “Cosmopolis,” we asked the filmmaker about a pair of his most tantalizingly unrealized projects: a sequel to his tremendous gangster movie “Eastern Promises” and a spin-off/sequel/something to his 1986 sci-fi classic “The Fly” (itself a remake of the considerably sillier film of the same name from 1958).
Though it had been brewing for a while, and was aiming to shoot this past October, we learned over the summer that Focus Features ultimately pulled the plug on “Eastern Promises 2.” But we couldn’t help but wonder where the story would have gone next. “It was something I really wanted to explore because it was the first time I had ever been tempted to do a sequel because I felt I wasn’t finished with the character of Nikolia, played by Viggo Mortensen, and Kirill played by Vincent Cassel,” Cronenberg explained, about why he was tempted to reenter the “Eastern Promises” fray.
In Cronenberg’s eyes, taking on the characters again required a change of scenery. “I really wanted to see Nikolia go back to Russia, because one of the things I wanted in the first movie was that you see a bunch of Russians in London but you never see them in Russia. In other words you experience their exile and they are trying to recreate some of Russia within London,” Cronenberg explained. “In the original screenplay there were some scenes in Russia and I thought it was better if we don’t see that – they long for Russia but we never see that.”
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Cronenberg went on to detail how the second film would be set up. “In the sequel,” he explained. “We would see Nikolai go to Russia and there would be Russian elements and so on and so on. And [original screenwriter] Steve Knight wrote a lovely script.” But why did it end up falling apart? “Focus Features couldn’t agree on a budget, basically,” Cronenberg said. “I thought it was a very ambitious script and I wanted to do it properly and they really felt the financial restraints of the world in general. It was a really budget disagreement.” With some heartbreaking finality, Cronenberg said: “As far as I’m concerned I’m not involved anymore.”
Back in 2011, it was reported that Cronenberg was working on a revision of “The Fly,” one of his most beloved and commercially successful movies (it starred a young Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis), for Fox. But almost as soon as that news surfaced, it was revealed that the studio has passed on the project. Cronenberg was hesitant to share too many details, but he did say, “It wasn’t really a remake, it was more of a sequel or a sidebar. It was a meditation on fly-ness. None of the same characters or anything and, of course, with an understanding of modern technology. It was something I was very pleased with and it was a disappointment not to get it made.” Cronenberg said that the same thing that derailed “Eastern Promises 2” also swatted “The Fly”: “Again it was a budget problem, basically.”
We’ll have more from our interview with Cronenberg soon. “Cosmopolis” hits DVD and Blu-ray on January 1st.