Warner Bros.' fall fantasy epic Pan is a certified bomb. And now, they may be facing similar troubles with another iconic character that they are rebooting for the big screen next summer. Tarzan is their $180 million attempt at resurrecting the legendary ape man. And issues are arising from the fact that this jungle adventure still needs a lot of work done. While there are 8 and a half months left until its scheduled release, director of the movie, David Yates, has already moved onto Warner Bros.' Harry Potter Prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Tarzan remains unfinished as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is already well into its shoot. This is causing an unusual problem for the studio and the director. Though, sources close to both productions claim that the move from Tarzan to Fantastic Beasts was planned well in advance. Warner Bros. is trying to quiet any speculation that Tarzan is doomed to follow in the footsteps of Pan, though some behind-the-scenes are calling it an epic 'mess'. One Warners executive had this to say.
"While it's somewhat unusual, we are extremely comfortable with the production timelines, which were set in advance, and have total confidence in the skill of David Yates - who is a four-time Harry Potter director - to deliver both of these pictures."
Another source directly involved with Tarzan claims that the film is overstuffed with VFX and is simply not going to get the attention that it needs, especially since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a higher priority, considering it could take the Harry Potter franchise well into the future. This second individual had this to say about Tarzan stumbling towards completion.
"The schedule of the J.K. Rowling movie got in the way of an appropriate postproduction schedule on Tarzan. Why would you ever crowd a director into starting a movie before his other movie is properly finished?"
Tarzan stars Alexander Skarsgård as the King of the Apes, with Margot Robbie starring as Jane. Other cast members include Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, John Hurt and Djimon Hounsou. The action-adventure based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' legendary book series has already held test screenings, and the results were not good. That said, the film is far from finished, and still has plenty of visual effects work that needs to be completed. Revisions, if done properly, could greatly improve the movie as it stands now.
Warner Bros. insiders are quick to note that both Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood have jumped from one film into the next, even though their previous projects were far from finished. Though, neither director is said to have ever tried such a herculian task with a movie budgeted at $180 million. And the film is a very complicated and challenging project to boot.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them began shooting under David Yates in August, and features an ensemble cast led by Eddie Redmayne as cryptozoologist Newt Scamander. Other cast members include Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Jenn Murray, Colin Farrell, along with recent cast additions Jon Voight and Ron Perlman. It is believed that David Yates is concentrating on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them throughout the week, and then he goes back to work on Tarzan during the weekends.
If Tarzan becomes too much of a headache during the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them shoot, insiders speculate that Warner Bros. will simply knock it away from its July 1, 2016 release date. The studio is supposedly not worried, as it has Guy Ritchie's Knights of the Round Table arriving just a few weeks later on July 22 and the DC Comics adventure Suicide Squad coming quickly thereafter on August 5 in what some are calling a crowded summer for Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. hasn't had the best luck launching franchise and big tentpole movies as of late. Not only did this fall's Pan do a stinging red belly flop, the often delayed Jupiter Ascending was also a box office bomb when it arrived still born this past February. And The Man from U.N.C.L.E., released this past August, didn't fare much better. Looking at this recent track record, it's no doubt that the studio might be concerned about Tarzan, which has about as much audience interest as Pan at this point. There has been no promotional push for the jungle drama at all. And a lot of moviegoers probably don't even know it's on the horizon.
While Warner Bros. doesn't sound hesitant about pulling Tarzan off their impending summer release schedule, there is no way they can delay Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film, which is being scripted by original Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, is positioned as one of next year's biggest Holiday releases. Says a source from Warner Bros.
"Notwithstanding that Tarzan isn't a cheap movie, the [Beasts] series is clearly one of [Warner Bros.] three planks [along with Lego and DC Comics]. At Warner Bros. right now, anything pales in comparison to those three silos."
Tarzan faced a major set back this past July when producer Jerry Weintraub passed away. Many believe the project wouldn't be running into problems were he still around to manage it. Some also doubt that, despite being surrounded by a strong ensemble cast, Alexander Skarsgård, best known for his HBO series True Blood, can carry the weight of a movie like this on his shoulders. And they speculate that Warners would have been better off with a better known actor in the lead. What do you think? Are you still excited to see a new Tarzan? Or were you never to begin with?