The development in recent months of The Side Effects has been an interesting one that’s been great to follow so far. Penned by Scott Z. Burns, Steven Soderbergh’s collaborator on Contagion, the writer was set to return behind the camera to direct the project himself.
After Soderbergh passed on directing The Man From U.N.C.L.E., however, word soon came that he would be returning to work with Burns on The Side Effects, which seemed to have changed its name to The Bitter Pill, with Burns stepping down as director to allow Soderbergh on board.
So far, so good.
Then earlier this month, we got more brilliant news when word surfaced that Blake Lively, Jude Law, and Channing Tatum were all in talks to join the project in the three leading roles, taking up the three parts of the love-triangle (or love-angle, considering Law and Tatum don’t have a tie between them, but you know what I mean).
Collider have been looking at three separate and consecutive reports from Variety, Deadline, and then The Playlist, and it seems that the development of the project currently has a bit of a question mark over its head.
They note that Variety report that the film’s financers, Annapurna Pictures (Megan Ellison’s production company), have backed out of the project, throwing into question the involvement of the three stars in talks to join. However, Open Road signed on last week to distribute it in the States and partner with Annapurna, and according to an Open Road spokesman, the deal is still on:
“The Open Road deal to release the picture is in place.”
So that’s a bit of good news, even if Annapurna are pulling out. And Variety also refer to the project as ‘Side Effects’, omitting the ‘The’, but that could be a simple case of contraction; obviously there are plenty of films beginning with ‘The’ that get referred to without.
Moving on, Deadline then released a report saying that Catherine Zeta-Jones was boarding the project too, that production for the $30m. film was scheduled to start in April in New York, and that Annapurna would be financing. This last point could well have been an assumption based on the original financing plans.
A report from The Playlist would seem to suggest so, backing up Variety’s report that Annapurna are backing out, saying that sources have told them that the reason for doing so was Lively’s involvement in the lead of
“a troubled young woman who develops a dangerous love triangle between her doctor (Law) and her newly paroled husband (Tatum).”
If that’s true, I personally think that’s really unfair, because Lively has been doing really well outside of Gossip Girl, and her role particularly in Ben Affleck’s The Town was well received.
The Playlist also note that Zeta-Jones would be playing another of the lead female’s doctors, and that despite Annapurna dropping out, the project is still looking to move forward soon and replace its financing without much trouble:
“[D]espite the setback, financing should be locked back into place shortly, foreign sales are already taken care of, and an April start date in New York City is still a go.”
That’s definitely good news in my books, because I’ve been looking forward to this quite a bit since news first emerged of it.
The Playlist note, however, that there remains a question of whether Lively will still want to be involved with the project once financing is newly secured, and note that sources have thrown up a few names in case she doesn’t, including Rooney Mara, Michelle Williams, Emily Blunt, and Imogen Poots. Personally, I’m hoping that Lively will remain on board, because I’d love to see her taking on more leading roles in feature films, particularly ones with great directors and opposite a great cast.
Essentially, it seems as though things are a little up in the air at the moment, but the last report certainly suggests that, if like me you’ve been looking forward to this, then you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. Soderbergh is naturally a very well-respected director, and hopefully he’ll be able to secure financing elsewhere soon.
The film is set to be his penultimate before he retires, at least temporarily, from filmmaking, with his summer shooting schedule set to be filled by his biopic of Liberace, with frequent collaborator Michael Douglas in the lead, and Matt Damon starring opposite him. Both these films should be a tremendous (hopefully temporary) end to what has been a brilliant career to date, and if he should choose to take his final bow with them, I think he’d have the satisfaction of burning out, not fading away. More news on (The) Side Effects/The Bitter Pill as we get it (which will hopefully be very soon, and hopefully be good news).