Roger Ailes continues to draw controversy even after his 2017 death. The man who built the philosophy of Fox News and much of the conservative talking points of the last thirty years makes sense as the subject of a film. Ailes maintained a powerful position in shaping the public discourse on various issues. Then in 2016 several Fox News contributors, including Greta Carlson and Megyn Kelly, went public. Ailes traded sex for promotions and engaged in sexual harrassment. This forced Ailes out of Fox News. A film on the women who took down Ailes is now in production but just lost Annapurna Pictures as the distributor a mere two weeks before it begins filming.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Jay Roach directed film was dropped from Annapurna’s slate. This seems like an odd move considering the powerful cast attached to the film. The cast features John Lithgow as Ailes, Charlize Theron as Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Carlson, and Margot Robbie as a Fox News producer. Variety reports that Focus Features will likely come on board to distribute.
Annapurna Financial Issues
Annapurna has established itself as a potential Oscar studio with strong films in 2019. This year, they have “Vice,” “The Sisters Brothers” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” in the Oscar discussion. However, according to a different article from The Wrap, there might be financial difficulties at the studio. After several of their films have come up short of expectations, including the $40 million “Detroit” only taking in $16 million at the box office, they’ve continually outspent projected budgets. This led to the ousting of President Chelsea Bernard, and Megan Ellision has taken a more hands-on approach for the company.
Part of the issue at hand is that Annapurna moved from producing films to distributing them as well. Having distribution partners helps lower the risk on a studio. Frankly, Annapurna films have not been huge hits at the box office. Megan Ellison and her father, Larry Ellison, put $200 million into the company to help kickstart the distribution arm. At this point, that side of the business has not worked out. Now, they are being more cautious about upcoming projects. It’ll be curious to see how Annapurna plays this over the next year, as they await “Bond 25” to help change their fortunes.