It’s been six years and several accounts of on-set temper tantrums since director David O. Russell released I Heart Huckabees, with only the documentary short Soldiers Pay to fill that interim. During that time, Russell has been hard at work on the beleaguered Nailed—a film that lives up to its USA Up All Night title with a story about a small-town waitress (played by Jessica Biel) who gets shot in the head with a nail gun and finds herself overcome with wild sexual urges. The would-be timely story also involves Biel’s uninsured nymphomaniac petitioning Congress for better health care for the “bizarrely injured,” whereupon she finds herself exploited—both in the political arena and between the sheets—by an immoral congressman played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Russell completed production on Nailed more than two years ago, only to find the film delayed by multiple production stoppages and other financial setbacks.
Now The Hollywood Reporter is saying that Russell has given up on Nailed altogether, exiting the project after negotiations fell apart with construction mogul-turned-film financier—and possible new owner of Miramax—Ronald Tutor. Among Russell’s complaints, reportedly, is the fact that Tutor was seeking to cut fees for producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher in half. For his part, Tutor couldn’t be more blasé about the whole thing, saying he’s determined to finish the film without Russell, and that he plans to hire a new director to complete production as well as bring back Biel and co-star Tracy Morgan for reshoots.
As THR points out, this development is more than just a slight to David O. Russell: It’s a “worrying sign” about how Tutor plans to conduct his business—and he does seem to view it as a business, considering he apparently has no qualms about dismissing a “well-regarded film auteur and an equally well-regarded producer team” if they can’t meet his bottom line, and hiring scabs to finish the film with no more consideration than, say, bringing in a cheaper contractor to hang some drywall. As Russell said in his statement, Nailed will now be produced under circumstances that are “much different on several fundamental levels than when we embarked several years ago.” Given the way the industry is slowly being taken over by number-crunching outside investors like Tutor and Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh, he may well be talking about the future of filmmaking right there. (Or maybe we're just being paranoid, and Russell is just kind of a baby. Hard to tell at this point.)
On the upside, Russell is now free to concentrate on The Fighter, his boxing drama with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale that's due in December, and which will hopefully spawn leaked audio of some of the greatest on-set freakouts in the history of filmmaking.