If only we loved anything as much as the Russo Brothers “love massive commercial storytelling.” The sibling director duo made their bones on the biggest Avengers movies of all time, and now Hollywood has given them a blank check to pursue their passion. Which is good, because their passion appears to be–if nothing else–spending an ungodly amount of money.
It sounds like the filmmakers have been pushing the limits of that blank check, though, because while Netflix may be content to spend the most money it’s ever spent on the most okay action film ever made, other studios are beginning to have qualms. Universal let the streamer have Electric State after a budget dispute, and now it sounds like the people over at Prime Video might be biting their nails over the rising costs of the brothers’ series Citadel.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the spy thriller has been plagued by “cost overruns and creative differences,” the latter of which “led to the exit of half the creative team.” The behind-the-scenes drama has resulted in the seven-episode series costing upwards of $235 million, making it the second-most expensive television show of all time (behind only its Prime Video neighbor Rings Of Power).
Apparently, the plan was to launch a flagship “Avengers-style” team-up–led by Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas–which would spawn global spin-offs for its international spies. But Prime Video didn’t love what it saw after shooting, which led to two separate cuts championed by the Russos on one side and writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec on the other. When the Russos got their way, Appelbaum was let go, and a number of other personnel decided to walk.
Inevitably, there was then a scramble to right the ship, bringing David Weil (Hunters) in to rewrite the series and “give it more grounding,” surely a Herculean task on what sounds like the least grounded program in television history. Joe Russo was reportedly “very much involved” with the subsequent reshoots, and the series is now in postproduction.
THR sources give lots of excuses for why the show got so costly, including unexpected COVID costs and lack of accounting for London tax credits, plus lots of people in the television landscape who don’t really know how to make television. (The Russo Brothers famously came up directing sitcoms.) In any case, it led to a permanent breakup between the Russos’ AGBO and Appelbaum and Nemec, who previously had a first-look deal with the company.
No release date yet for Citadel, but all eyes are definitely going to be on this one to see if it was actually worth the hefty budget. (But if anyone at Prime saw The Gray Man, they may be a bit worried right now.)