On the heels of Pan‘s staggeringly disappointing performance at the box office, Warner Bros. is also having major trouble with another one of its fantasy blockbuster reboots: Tarzan. The film, which is scheduled to hit theaters next summer, reportedly still needs considerable work. The problem? Director David Yates has already moved on to his next high-profile project.
On paper, Tarzan has all the makings of a commercial hit. Besides having Yates as a director, the movie has charismatic leads in in Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie and a talented supporting cast that includes Hollywood vets Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson. But while the project may seem to have all the right elements, it looks like things aren’t falling into place as easily as the studio might have hoped.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, early test screenings didn’t go well and only proved that the movie still needs a lot of work. While it’s not unusual for movies to be revised and improved upon at this stage in the development process, there’s one significant issue in this particular case: Yates has already started production on Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, his other Warner Bros. movie that’s also due out next year. With the director tied up in that project during the week and editing Tarzan on the weekends, some studio execs are reportedly concerned that the latter, which boasts a budget of a whopping $180 million, isn’t getting the proper attention that it needs.
Any concern wouldn’t be completely unwarranted. The studio isn’t exactly having a great year. February’s critically panned Jupiter Ascending kicked off a string of feature flops, such as Entourage, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Vacation, and We Are Your Friends. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this month’s Pan-sized failure alone could wind up costing Warner Bros. $150 million. All of this basically means that there’s new pressure to ensure that the already costly Tarzan doesn’t become another financial disaster.
For it’s part, Warner Bros. claims that Yates’s move from Tarzan to Pan was planned in advance. “While it’s somewhat unusual, we are extremely comfortable with the production timelines, which were set in advance, and have total confidence in the skill of David Yates — who is a four-time Harry Potter director — to deliver both of these pictures,” Warners executive was quoted as saying to THR.
Whether that’s really the case and Tarzan will end up getting finished in time for its planned release remains to be seen. Still, juggling two mega-budgeted, high-profile blockbusters is a lot for anyone to handle, even a vet like Yates. If the process proves to be too much, another option is for Warners to push the film off its summer release date altogether. It would be the third year in a row that the studio bumped a July entry (Jupiter Ascending and Pan were also both delayed), but the studio’s schedule is already relatively packed this summer with Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur and Suicide Squad.
We’ll have to stay tuned to see if Tarzan can meet its due date — and if it can avoid becoming another Pan-style disaster, even if it does. For now, the reboot is still scheduled for July 2016. Meanwhile, Yate’s other flick, Fantastic Beasts, is scheduled for November 2016.