Bye Bye Birdie: According to Variety, Jon M. Chu, the USC film grad who was scooped up by Sony last year at age 23 to direct the studio's remake of Bye Bye Birdie, is no longer on board to direct the musical.
The young helmer, who had a pay-or-play deal, was taken off the project due to the pic's escalating budget and risky nature.
Originally budgeted at $25 million, Bye Bye Birdie is now looking like a $65 million film and is a high-priority pic at Sony, with casting deals expected as early as Friday.
Sony says it is still a fan of Chu's and is searching for another pic for him that is more tyro-appropriate.
Red Wagon principals Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher, along with the shingle's exec VP of creative affairsRachel Shane, are producing the film.
Chu is not the only first-time director whose inexperience has been questioned recently. In August, Warner Bros. pulled the plug on rookie helmer Ted Griffin on his untitled romantic comedy and replaced him with Rob Reiner. In an era of sky-high production costs the trend is likely to continue.
Chu was hired in April 2003 to direct Bye Bye Birdie, which gained steam at the studio as drafts by Stuart Blumberg and later Tina Fey started coming in.
Chu was the talk of Hollywood due to his 17-minute grad school short "When the Kids Are Away," which he wrote and directed. The film was a full-blown musical that boasted a cast and crew of 175.
Upon graduation he swiftly landed rep deals with William Morris and Marathon Entertainment's Jewerl Ross andDanny Sherman.
Chu has a first-look deal at DreamWorks, where he is developing "Moxie" for producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen. He's also developing "Dreamers" at Warner Bros. for producer Bob Kosberg.