Robin Hood: Yet another Hollywood major screw-up

Thanks to Tad Williams for linking this. =)

Hollywood's SFF productions rarely fail to disappoint, and here's another example as to why this always seems to be the case. This from the New York Magazine:

Many have noted that in the current version of Robin Hood, now out in theaters, Robin Hood does not actually rob from the rich or give to the poor. Perhaps that's because in the insanely expensive development process for the Russell Crowe movie, the idea of redistribution of wealth hit a little too close to home for the filmmakers: Universal spent $6.7 million in scriptwriting costs just to eventually produce the complete opposite of the original story they'd intended to tell. And it was costly in other ways, too: The making of this epic would cause the near-splintering of one of Hollywood's most successful actor-director partnerships, Crowe and Ridley Scott. The new movie might not live up to the famous Nottingham legend, but the behind-the-scenes tale of what went wrong should certainly be part of Hollywood lore.

It began with an original spec script called Nottingham, written by Sleeper Cell creators Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reif, the latter of whom had studied medieval history in college. It was, technically, a lighthearted Robin Hood movie, but with a clever twist: What if the infamous Sheriff of Nottingham had actually been a good guy, a dedicated public servant who’d just suffered from bad PR? What if Robin Hood was really kind of a jerk? What if they both had a thing for Marian? And what if the whole story were told from the perspective of this intriguing Sheriff?

Most studios and producers immediately passed on the Nottingham script when it hit their in-boxes in January 2007. It was set in the twelfth century (expensive!), it wasn’t based on a toy, board game, or action figure (Robin who?), and so far, it had no big-name talent interested. But four days after the spec script went out — an eternity in Hollywood development — it caught fire: Bryan Singer called, hoping to direct it at Warner Bros., and Jon Turtelbaub (National Treasure) expressed interest in making it at Disney. Suddenly, George Freeman, Russell Crowe’s agent at William Morris — where Reif and Voris were also repped — was interested, too: Was this something the Aussie Oscar-winner could star in? Absolutely!


And now began the bizarre process of paying three other top-shelf screenwriters millions of dollars more to completely remove the very idea that supposedly made Nottingham worth acquiring for $1.5 million. Actually, scratch that: It actually began almost the moment Crowe said yes.


When production started in April 2009 on what Universal Pictures was calling — even at that late date — An Untitled Robin Hood Adventure, the bickering over plot was mostly put aside. Yet after all that work to cement the story, there was still a lingering problem with the script: the dialogue.

The Nottingham-cum-Robin Hood script, having been repeatedly sawed apart and welded back together by so many, had a hero whose speech (somewhat unsurprisingly) suggested a multiple personality disorder. So, with the clock ticking, Universal hired still another Brit playwright, the Oscar-winning Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love), paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars to work as an on-set dialogue polisher, and pushing the film's final screenwriting tab to a whopping $6.7 million.

So again, for those keeping score: As the cameras rolled, Stoppard was rewriting Helgeland's rewrite of Webb's rewrite of Helgeland's rewrite of Voris and Reif's original script, which started out with the complete inverse of the present concept. (Voris and Reif receive a shared "story by" credit on the film — the least amount of credit legally allowed for an original screenplay by the Writers Guild of America.)


Amusingly enough, the New York Times would ultimately call Robin Hood a "crowded, lumbering film" — likely without realizing exactly how apt a description that really was.

Follow this link for the full article.

10 commentaires:

Unknown said...

It should be noted that Robin Hood is a prequel. It's not marketed as such, and that, to be honest, is idiotic at best. If you see the movie (which I don't think you should) you'd know that they didn't change the story, per se, they just changed his origins. The story has nothing to do with what we're familiar with for Robin Hood. It's about how he became Robin Hood.

That said, it isn't a very good movie. I reviewed it on my blog a little while ago and said as much.

Lagomorph Rex said...

Ridley Scott's Robin Hood to me is the back Book end to a unmade King Richard Film with Kingdom of Heaven as the first bookend.

I thought it was a pretty good movie, but then I've never really been a fan of the green tights prancing in the wood's style Robin Hood.. with the notable exceptions of Men in Tights and Disney's Robin Hood with the talking animals.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like a convoluted mess to me. Knew there was a good reason why I skipped this movie.

Steve MC said...

There was recently a two-hour History Channel documentary on Robin Hood that was quite good - you got to see scenes from the movie without actually seeing the movie itself.

machinery said...

imo the whole robin hood story is worn out and hollywood should give it a break.
come back in 20 years.

Zafri Mollon said...

One of the most terribly plotted movies that I've ever seen. There were a dozen many scenes that were completely unnecessary, and a series of plot holes all larger than the grand canyon. I was almost hysterically laughing at certain parts of the movie because they were so stupid (eg. when two horses smashed a wooden gate to smithereens by putting their hooves on it). I also reviewed it on my blog, and said as much except my rant was probably a hundred times as long as this.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Disney still made the greatest ROBIN HOOD movie ever.

pacamanca said...

This kind of thing makes me glad I don't have time to go to the movies anymore, what with a toddler and all. All evidence I've read/heard so far makes me happy I've missed this one in particular...

Brett said...

It should be noted that Robin Hood is a prequel. It's not marketed as such, and that, to be honest, is idiotic at best.

It's probably because they wanted to take advantage of the people who would come "because it's Robin Hood", while leaving the actual Robin Hood story to a hypothetical sequel. It definitely sucks that they did both.

I thought it was a pretty good movie, but then I've never really been a fan of the green tights prancing in the wood's style Robin Hood..

I thought it was mostly entertaining, at least . . . until the ending sequence and battle, both of which were just atrocious.

The one saving grace of the movie were some of the characters (at least until the ending). Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Addy, and Mark Lewis Jones all do very well with what they have.