The idea of major falling out on a high profile Hollywood project might seem unprecedented in the midst of the Han Solo controversy surrounding directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s departure from the Star Wars spin-off film, but that’s not the case. Directors departing projects early on is normal, but there have also been a handful of times in the past when the creative force behind a film has had to walk away from a project after sinking months — or years — into its development.
Such was the case with Marvel’s Ant-Man, when Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright departed the movie just months before cameras were set to roll. Wright had been working on the film’s script for years alongside Attack the Block creator Joe Cornish, and had even completed a large bulk of Ant-Man‘s casting. Unfortunately, something just didn’t seem to click between the director and Marvel Studios during the production process. This week, Wright opened up about what caused the creative rift.
“I think the most diplomatic answer is I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie,” Wright said in an interview with Variety. “It was a really heartbreaking decision to have to walk away after having worked on it for so long, because me and Joe Cornish in some form—it’s funny some people say, ‘Oh they’ve been working on it for eight years’ and that was somewhat true, but in that time I had made three movies so it wasn’t like I was working on it full time. But after The World’s End I did work on it for like a year, I was gonna make the movie.”
Wright then went on to explain how issues arose when he was asked to hand over finishing touches to people within the studio, a very different approach than what he was used to given his career of personally handling creative decisions from start to finish.
“But then I was the writer-director on it and then they wanted to do a draft without me, and having written all my other movies, that’s a tough thing to move forward thinking if I do one of these movies I would like to be the writer-director,” Wright said. “Suddenly becoming a director for hire on it, you’re sort of less emotionally invested and you start to wonder why you’re there, really.”
The split appears to have worked out well for everyone involved, as Peyton Reed came in to helm Ant-Man following Wright’s departure at the eleventh hour. The movie garnered critical success and earned enough at the box office for Marvel to greenlight a sequel, titled Ant-Man and the Wasp, with Reed back on board to direct.
Wright went on to write and direct Baby Driver which, on the heels of positive early reviews, could be primed for a big debut as it races into theaters on June 28, 2017.
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