Creative differences cited by those behind the scenes

NEW YORK — Joel Schumacher has left vacant the director’s chair on “The Apartment,” Lakeshore Entertainment’s remake of the French thriller “L’Appartement.”

The helmer checked out of “The Apartment” for good late last week and has formalized his exit from a movie that was expected to begin production in January, with negotiations under way for Freddie Prinze Jr. and Kate Winslet to star.

Schumacher would not comment, but the usual “creative differences” were being cited by those behind the scenes. Pic was originally envisioned to be distributed by Paramount.

Since Schumacher just made a film for that studio — the Robert De Niro starrer “Flawless” — it’s unclear if the pending move had any impact on his decision. One person said the movie wasn’t coming together quickly enough. It’s also unclear what impact this will have on the projected start date of the film.

Schumacher has already begun looking for his next job, with two prime possibilities having surfaced. One was being held a closely guarded secret. The other is “Tigerland,” a New Regency/Fox feature about former grunts who are taken to the backwoods of Louisiana in 1971 and trained to fight in Vietnam in a mock Vietnamese village. There, the recruits are taught to forget their humanity as they prepare for atrocities ahead.

The film was scripted by Ross Klavan and Michael McGruther, with Klavan a veteran who went through a similar training experience.

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