American Gangster movie was set to become Hollywood joke over terrifying director

Universal bosses were willing to take a massive hit on producer Brian Grazer’s film American Gangster because they were terrified of the director he hired.The movie mogul had Denzel Washington and Benicio Del Toro attached to the drama, and had no idea…

Universal bosses were willing to take a massive hit on producer Brian Grazer’s film American Gangster because they were terrified of the director he hired.

The movie mogul had Denzel Washington and Benicio Del Toro attached to the drama, and had no idea studio executives were so scared of the unnamed moviemaker he had tasked with directing the film, they were willing to walk away from the project and accept a $33 million (£26.5 million) loss.

“That would’ve been the biggest loss in the history of films that had never been made,” Grazer said. “It was heartbreaking. I thought, ‘I can’t forget American Gangster and I’m gonna build a better case.'”

So, he urged Denzel to stay with the project, asked Ridley Scott to take over as director, and then went after Russell Crowe.

“I said, ‘You and (screenwriter) Steve Zaillian can work on the role and enrich it, but I need your absolute commitment.’

“I was able to reunite these guys (Crowe and his Gladiator director) on something that was an absolute no from Universal. I turned it and them around and made the movie and everybody was proud of it.”

American Gangster, based on the life of gangster Frank Lucas, was released in 2000 and went on to make over $266 million (£214 million) at the global box office from a $100 million (£80 million) budget.

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Will Smith to play crime boss Nicky Barnes in The Council

Will Smith has signed up to play crime boss Nicky Barnes in The Council.The Oscar-nominated actor will play the New York City mobster in the Netflix movie, which follows the true never-before-told story of how Barnes and his crime syndicate ruled Harle…

Will Smith has signed up to play crime boss Nicky Barnes in The Council.

The Oscar-nominated actor will play the New York City mobster in the Netflix movie, which follows the true never-before-told story of how Barnes and his crime syndicate ruled Harlem in the 1970s and 1980s after revolutionising illegal drug dealing in a partnership with the Italian-American mafia.

Smith will again team up with Concussion director Peter Landesman, who has penned the script for The Council and will serve as an executive producer. A director for the project has not yet been announced.

The 51-year-old actor and his production partner James Lassiter are producing, alongside Matt Jackson and Jason Essex.

Barnes, dubbed Mr. Untouchable by The New York Times, was the head of an international drug trafficking ring in the 1970s and was eventually arrested in 1978 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He entered witness protection after he became an FBI informant and died from cancer in 2012.

Cuba Gooding Jr. previously played Barnes opposite Denzel Washington’s gangster Frank Lucas in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster back in 2007.

Smith was most recently seen as the Genie in Disney’s live-action Aladdin, alongside Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, which has made more than $1 billion (£806 million) at the worldwide box office since its release in May.

He will next be seen on the big screen in Ang Lee’s sci-fi drama Gemini Man and the highly-anticipated Bad Boys for Life sequel, which will be released in January.

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Russell Crowe auctioning off majority of watch collection

Russell Crowe is selling more than half of his impressive watch collection.The New Zealand-born actor is preparing to auction off 29 of his personal timepieces, many of which he bought while working on movies like Proof of Life and American Gangster.Sh…

Russell Crowe is selling more than half of his impressive watch collection.

The New Zealand-born actor is preparing to auction off 29 of his personal timepieces, many of which he bought while working on movies like Proof of Life and American Gangster.

Sharing the news on Twitter, Russell got watch fans excited by adding a photo of a Panerai up for sale.

“This auction I’m having April 7th in SYDNEY will feature no less than 29 watches !! Representing over half my collection . 21 or so of the ones on sale are Chronographs. Never had a flash watch as a kid. Certainly made up for it as an adult haha (sic),” he wrote.

“Every watch comes with a signed letter saying what project I associate the watch to. Auction will be live in Sydney, however you’ll be able to bid from wherever you are in the world . April 7th. I’ll give you lots more details later, but you will be able to register to bid online, you’ll be able to watch the auction taking place, pre auction you can view catalogue, enquire about condition , ask specialists questions . Live, phone and online bidding (sic).”

He also uploaded an image of a hand signed note, detailing a Rolex he is giving up.

“Over my life I have collected watches, some connected to movies or special events,” the note reads. “This watch, ‘Rolex Cellini’ was part of that collection. Purchased during the shoot of American Gangster.”

He confirmed to one Twitter user that there will be a mix of pricey pieces from Panerai, Rolex, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Chopard, Breitling, Omega, IWC, Asprey and Chanel up for auction.

There is no word yet as to why the Oscar winner is selling his collection.

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