You may remember the news from almost exactly a year ago that The Grey director Joe Carnahan was embarking on a new version of the vigilante classic Death Wish. Well you can now forget it again, since Carnahan has just walked from the project, citing creative differences with the studios involved. The key issue seems to have been MGM and Paramount's desire to cast Bruce Willis in the lead.
Michael Winner's original film, of course, starred Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey, an architect who decides he just isn't going to take it any more when tragedy strikes. He actually began the series as a kind of everyman character, but evolved into an invincible death machine over four sequels.
Brian Garfield, who wrote the book on which the first film was based, intensely disliked Winner's take on the material, and Carnahan's intention was to go back to that novel, but relocate it to present-day Los Angeles. "I want to show an unseen version of LA," he said at the time. "LA on foot, prowling, hunting, the vast emptiness of downtown..." It looked set to finally be the vehicle for the '70s styled crime aesthetic he's clearly itching to get on screen (check out his "sizzle reel" pitch trailers for the unmade Daredevil and Gemini Man).
It's not to be, however. "I wrote a very, very specific character for Death Wish and wasn't willing to alter it," Carnahan explained via Twitter. "You stick to your guns. You walk what you talk and you only make the things and do the work you love and believe in. Zero issue with Bruce; I'm a huge fan. I would hope to work with him somewhere down the range one day."
Death Wish will continue in other hands, it seems. Carnahan, meanwhile, has plenty of other projects to busy himself with, including his long-developing Pablo Escobar biopic Killing Pablo; the James Ellroy adaptation White Jazz; the thriller Narco Sub, inherited from the late Tony Scott; and Mark Millar's Nemesis, which Carnahan says he's currently "crushing".