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Universal Tells Spielberg 'No' on Financing Tintin

by
September 19, 2008
Source: LA Times

Tintin

Back in August we wrote that there seemed to be some confusion over who would be directing the long-in-the-works Tintin - Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson. A recent article in the LA Times reinforces what most have thought for a while - that Spielberg would direct the first film of the three films, while Jackson the second - but brings up a much larger concern for the duo and the project. Reportedly, Universal has backed out of co-financing the production with Paramount, rejecting the $130 million budget. I can't say Tintin is high on my radar, considering it's a European comic strip that was published between 1929 and 1976. Nevertheless, giants like Spielberg and Jackson not getting their way is certainly newsworthy.

The newspaper speculates on why Universal said no, and it appears the primary reason is the large budget versus potential commercial success. Spielberg and Jackson aren't cheap by any means, nor is animated 3D exactly a huge draw. 2007's Beowulf made roughly $190 worldwide with a reported budget of $150 million. However, folks are saying that Tintin would need to make an estimated $425 million in order for the studio to break even, given the directors' demands on revenues from the various sale channels. I'm no expert on the math associated with such heavy hitters, crossing studios or motion capture 3D, but a project at that's up at that kind of level definitely feels like a stretch for anyone.

Interestingly, Spielberg's DreamWorks is supposed to split from Paramount soon, yet the studio has financed nearly $30 million upfront for Tintin, and hoped Universal would come in and help with the rest. Spielberg's split with the studio hasn't exactly been kind, so we've got to wonder what this means for Tintin. Can Spielberg go back to Paramount and convince them to finance the entire project, or can he get help elsewhere? Also noteworthy is that Universal is a top choice to distribute DreamWorks' new films once it splits from Paramount. So does the studio telling Spielberg 'no' put that relationship in jeopardy?

This is all pretty high-minded Hollywood negotiations, so it's anyone's guess what will happen to Tintin. But given Spielberg's track record, you would think that the guy will eventually get his way, especially since he's coveted the property since 1983. Apparently Paramount executives have seen a representative 10-minute clip of the film and are deciding whether to finance the entire thing. If they do, Tintin may begin production next month. If not, it may never see the light of day. Do you want to see Tintin get made?

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  • sleepykid
    Blistering barnacles! No, I don't want a Tintin film. The whole appeal of the books lies in the wonderfully meticulous panelled artwork, marvellously odd characters, and the leisurely, dense, but never confusing mystery plotting that can be read at any reader's pace. It is a brilliantly visual item, but not particularly suited to cinema. Feel free to disagree
  • Keith
    Yes. I read some of the books as a kid, and although I can't recall the stories in the slightest, I'd enjoy seeing the character brought to the screen.
  • Tomi
    I loved Tintin when I was a kid and still do (grew up in Europe) but if you told me that it will be made into a 3D animated movie.... I wouldnt care much. But when you tell me Spielberg and Jackson are on board Im definitely going to get exited. Made well these movies could be amazing and they would most certainly be a huge hit in Europe, but in the states... hard to say.
  • Al
    I would like a Tintin movie, but not animated or motion capture or whatever the hell they have in store for this.
  • sd
    Not on your radar, well thats too bad for you. TinTin is not just a 'comic strip'. Some of these books (ok comics) have better stories then some movies these days. Maybe you should try em out. As a European myself, growing up with TinTin, i cannot imagine anything better then a movie based on it by spielberg. I would assume williams would score it. Its a dream come true. Hopefully it will happen...
  • Viper
    Is it just me or wasn't there a TinTin cartoon as well? No one has mentioned that. If what I remember is in fact TinTin, then please don't bother making a movie. I changed the channel whenever it came on (when I was little of course).
  • I would be wary if I was UNIVERSAL. Even with Speilberg and Jackson, this feels like another SPEED RACER too me. In America Tin-Tin is just not very popular anymore. I can see this doing will overseas (France to be exact), but otherwise I think it is a bad idea.
  • sleepykid
    #6 Yes, there was a cartoon, and it too failed to capture the charm of the books.
  • Mario Tenorio
    Tintin et le mystère de la Toison d'Or the french movie. by Jean-Jacques Vierne, remember this one?, it was sweet. So in good hands this excellent books could come to life without the akwardness. I think Spielberg is not the good hands.
  • Philkill
    Honestly, how many people still actually like Tintin these days? Or know about it? I've never read a comic, all I remember was the cartoon, and that I never watched (why watch the Tintin cartoon when you had Ren and Stimpy?!). 99% of kids these days wouldn't know what Tintin is, so already that's a lot of revenue down the toilet. And how the heck did Jackson get into this? Does Tintin sound like a PJ thing? :S
  • Spielberg and Jackson are both mediocre directors who churn out easily digestable pap for the domestic US market. Between they've already ruined the best science fiction and fantasy novels of the twentieth century. Cooking them down to inane sound-bytes and predictable action-sequences. I wouldn't trust either of them to do justice to Tintin.
  • Philkill
    moif... it sounds like you've got an axe to grind. I mean, Peter Jackson churning out "easily digestable pap for the domestic US market"? What the hell? You cannot back that up. Why not just admit you have some weird hatred for two oscar winning directors and leave it at that? What you've used to support your view is pure nonsense.
  • Red Buttons
    Still to early to speculate whether or not this will be good. I still love TinTin, and i can only hope for the best.
  • I don't have to back it up. Its called an opinion. You don't have to like, agree or care about it.
  • Voice Of Reason
    It better be high on your radar, Powers/FS.net This movie, considering it's a European comic strip, was published between 1929 and 1976 and holds more fame and noteriety than most of the BS comic movies this site supports. Nevermind the genius' at the helm or how true Jackson holds material to its source. Tin Tin is a solid vehicle that brilliantly lends itself to all the aspects of adventure, action and comic book movies which have fascinated the public worldwide and dominated the box office. You doubt Weta? You doubt Jackson? You doubt the visual genius of Hergé? Bah, an old timey European Comic Book. . . just you wait, this will be a sight to see.
  • Sumit
    The only reason Uni passed is simply cos Spielberg and Jackson are asking for way too much money. Their deals means that they get first cut of the profits before the studio which is crazy! Basically the studio is taking all the risk putting up all the money and if the film flops or does only marginally will make little if any money yet SS & PJ will be guaranteed to make millions from it. If they are so desperate to make this film they should just finance it themselves (lets face it Spielberg alone could finance production, marketing & distribution of the whole trilogy and still be a billionaire) and take the risk themselves - this way if the film is a huge hit then they can take all the money - of course its easier to play with someone else's money knowing that there is no risk at all for them.

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