Antoine Fuqua has been a busy man: the “Training Day” helmer has “Olympus Has Fallen” about to hit theaters, just as his hands are in several pies, developing many upcoming projects. We caught up with him during press for the White House siege film, and while he could only reveal that there were several balls in the air, he did confirm the death of a project he was linked to, the big-screen adaptation of his series “24.”
“Yeah, that’s not happening. I don’t think it’s gonna happen at all, definitely not with me,” Fuqua shrugs, putting the stake in what has always been a pretty tenuous project. “I met with Kiefer [Sutherland], Fox wanted to do it, it was a matter of his schedule before he went off to do his new show [’Touch‘].” The story that circulated was that there were budgetary disputes, as well as the matter of a meager offer to Sutherland, and Fuqua leans towards that by admitting, “I don’t think he was able to get a proper agreement with Fox. The time just passed, and I went off to go to what I was doing.”
While there’s nothing set in stone, the next project for Fuqua is “Southpaw,” the boxing drama that’s bounced around the development timeline for quite awhile now, and once had Eminem linked to the lead role. Fuqua explains, “’Southpaw’ was with DreamWorks, that’s when I got the job. Then Em had to go do his music, so we paused it for awhile.” Without confirming whether Eminem is still involved, he says, “I have a great passion for that project, and I met with [Steven] Spielberg about it, and I loved it. The timing of that didn’t work up. And I spoke with Harvey Weinstein, and he loved it from the beginning. So I said, let’s do it. So he went over and talked to them, and Harvey has it now. We’re looking at different casts and I’m looking to be doing that at the end of the summer.”
There were various start dates also mentioned for a biopic about late rapper Tupac Shakur, and while that project vanished from sight, Fuqua claims the project is fully funded, but still suffering from script complications. “It was announced too soon,” Fuqua lamented. “I have a deal for Tupac, but the script is not there yet, and its being worked on. Somehow someone started talking about it, it got out there and went crazy, but it was always a situation of, let’s make sure we have a great script, and get it right.” When asked what the story would deal with, Fuqua promises a focus on, “the last few days, that trip from LA to Vegas, and where his head was during that journey.”
As far as music movies, Fuqua’s also attached to a biopic of Miles Davis, starring Don Cheadle and soundtracked by Herbie Hancock. Wile it’s been quite on that front, Fuqua acknowledges that it’s also on the ledger. “Don’s a good friend and we talk about it all the time,” Fuqua says. “It’s funny when these things get announced, because I’m attached to it, I wanna do it with Don, but there’s no written deals. We’re trying to figure out where the money’s coming from. It’s been surprisingly tough to get the money together to do the Miles Davis story. I love Miles Davis, I love Don, how could you not want to make that if you’re serious about making movies?” Paging Megan Ellison?
Clearly the industry struggles have weighed on Fuqua, who has been attached to many “vaporfilms” that never come together. The fact is, filmmakers who aren’t making no-budget indies or mega-expensive blockbusters are being squeezed out of the industry. “There’s truth in things I’m linked to,” Fuqua says of the projects that have mentioned his involvement. “A couple were announced too soon, like Tupac, or ‘Hunter Killer’ at Relativity. They just cost a certain amount of money, and they get announced but no one has written the check yet. It’s hard to get a drama made, it’s tough to get a ‘Training Day’ made today.”
Oddly enough, Fuqua had to go to the other side of the world to get a film going, and one of his coming projects is the Chinese historical epic now known as “The Tang Dynasty,” with a script by David Franzoni (“Amistad“). “Now it’s in their system, they have to go through the government,” says Fuqua. “That project is a big epic movie, and they have money, and I’m sort of at the mercy of that process. The goal initially was to get the Tupac script together, because that was a smaller movie, and then I would go to China because it’s gonna take time to prep that movie, sixteen to twenty weeks to prep that movie.”
Describing this film, Fuqua promises the scope will be huge, stating, “It’s costumes, big battle scenes, recreating the dynasty. Like ‘Gladiator’ but in China.” As for the language, Fuqua says, “We’ve talked about doing it in the Chinese language. It’s tricky, because at one point we thought, we’d do Chinese language and at some point it dissolves into English. But you’ve gotta get great Chinese actors. I’ve been there with Chow Yun-Fat [on ‘The Replacement Killers’] — you get the best out of them when they’re in their element.”
We’ll wait to see how things develop for his next effort, but “Olympus Has Fallen” hits theaters March 22nd.