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The End of Universal’s ‘Indian Summer’ and the Continuation of Hollywood’s Recession

October 21st, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments


In the summer of 1947, there was a historic transfer of power from Great Britain to India and Pakistan–two countries that hadn’t even existed before that point. Many lives were lost in the name of independence and there was an intriguing love triangle between the political leaders involved–British viceroy Louis Dickie Mountbatten, his wife, Edwina, and India’s legendary first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. This complex moment in history–full of drama, intrigue and fascinating politics–would be perfect material for a film.

It’s the kind of epic drama that Hollywood executives who dream of Oscar can’t resist. In the past that was true, at least. But in these economic times, not only can studio executives resist, but they’ve been going out of their way not to make these kinds of adult dramas.

Variety reports that Atonement director Joe Wright‘s plans to being Alex Von Tunzelmann‘s nonfiction book, Indian Summer, a narrative history of the transition of ’47, to the big screen have been scrapped. This blow came even after Oscar winner Cate Blanchett was cast as Edwina. One of the major reasons is Universal’s reluctance to spend over $30 million on an adult drama when there’s no guarantee that the money will be made back–a trend that has grown wildly in this economic recession. The struggling movie studio has been hit with a string of box office bad luck this year and executives are reluctant to take any more risks. There were also issues involving the on-location shooting in India as well as the controversial subject matter.

“We were in between a rock and a hard place,” Wright lamented to Variety.

“The Indian government wanted us to make less of the love story while the studio wanted us to make more of the love story.”

While the director still hopes that Indian Summer will see the light of day at some point, its fate remains indeterminable. What we can bet on, however, is that multiplexes are going to filled with plenty of Paul Blarts. That’s interesting subject matter, too — right?

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