Studio shelves pricey 'Guys'

“Used Guys” is being traded in.

The laffer starring Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller was set to go into production in June under Jay Roach’s helm, but 20th Century Fox pulled the plug Friday, citing pre-production delays.

Sources close to the production say Fox got cold feet about the pic when the budget threatened to surpass $110 million.

The studio, however, issued a statement Monday saying the pic’s “futuristic settings” wouldn’t be ready in time for the skedded June start date. Because of the delays, “Guys” wouldn’t wrap before Carrey and Stiller had other acting commitments, Fox said.

Carrey’s next pic after “Guys” is “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!,” which director Tim Burton plans to get under way for Paramount in November. Stiller, who is in production on holiday pic “A Night at the Museum,” has not yet announced a film for his fall slot.

“Guys” had been skedded for release on June 15, 2007. Fox will now move “Fantastic Four 2” into that date, up from July 4.

Those who said budget concerns were a bigger issue noted that Carrey, Stiller and Roach were all disappointed to learn the news. Studio had originally been trying to get “Guys” made for around $90 million.

Carrey, Stiller and Roach — all of whom normally command hefty fees and gross points — had already cut their pay and backend in order to keep costs down. But more recently, the sources said, Fox asked for further concessions.

According to the Fox statement, “All the parties remain committed to making the picture when time permits.”

But the long road to its first greenlight shows that it may be tough to find another time when all the elements come together again.

“Guys,” a sci-fi comedy about a women-ruled world where men are bought and sold as sex objects, started out seven years ago at Columbia as a spec by Mickey Birnbaum. When the Col option lapsed, Stiller’s Red Hour Films snapped it up and set up the project at DreamWorks in 2002.

Over the years, as several rewrites were done, Vince Vaughn was once attached to star opposite Stiller. Roach later came aboard to direct, followed by Carrey.

Production was set to begin in New Mexico next month. In March, Roach, a native of Albuquerque, attended a news conference with Gov. Bill Richardson to announce the project. At the time, Roach said pre-production was already well under way. “We’re building little electric cars that you’ll see buzzing around Santa Fe,” he said.

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