The “Dallas” feature is no longer galloping to the starting gate.
New Regency’s adaptation of the popular 1970s TV sudser was set to start shooting in November but has been put on hold as the movie is rebooted.
The decision has been made to scrap the pic’s cast with the exception of John Travolta, who’s still set to star as J.R. Ewing, the sly schemer of the dripping-rich, dysfunctional family.
Helmer Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham”), who took over the reins in April, is still attached but will make her final decision as to whether she’ll direct the pic when the new cast comes together. Robert Harling’s script may be tweaked, but a major overhaul is not planned.
Luke Wilson, who was cast as Bobby Ewing, has a pay-or-play deal that’s up in January but is no longer in the cast. Also out is Shirley MacLaine, who was to play Miss Ellie. And talks have broken off with Meg Ryan, whom New Regency wanted for the role of boozy Sue Ellen. Jennifer Lopez was originally attached to play that role but dropped out in August.
Although “Dallas” is a strong brand in the U.S. and abroad, New Regency is concerned about the pic’s playability as the TV series, which went off the air 15 years ago, is hardly a household name among young filmgoers.
The new mission is to make “Dallas” for a substantially lower price than its most recent $65 million budget by going out to thesps with lower quotes.
Furthermore, Chadha, who replaced helmer Robert Luketic, was not happy with the cast, and focus group research concluded that J.R. was the only character auds felt strongly about.
The hope is to recast the pic and begin shooting as early as January.
In recent weeks, New Regency had been shopping the pic around town for financial partners. Twentieth Century Fox had originally been aboard to co-finance the pic but dropped out last year.
A New Regency rep said simply, “We are moving forward with the project.”