BREAKING NEWS–Peter Weir leaves as director of SHANTARAM; production of Johnny Depp film delayed until spring 2007

Variety reports that director Peter Weir has left the Warner Bros. production of SHANTARAM, the big-budget adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’ novel. Apparently there was no meeting of the minds between the director and his screenwriter, Eric Roth, and the WB production team and their star, Johnny Depp. Variety notes that Weir’s exit occurred “shortly after the studio received a Weir-supervised rewrite from Eric Roth,” so it’s likely the script revealed some fundamental incompatibility between Weir’s vision of SHANTARAM and what the producers had in mind. According to the UK Guardian, “US speculation suggests Weir and Depp, who is also producing, could not agree on the film’s direction.”

Variety notes that “[w]hile several sources said Weir and star Johnny Depp, who also produces with Graham King, were unable to get on the same page and decided the pairing wasn’t meant to be, a WB spokesman claimed the conflict had been broader than that. ‘Peter moved on from this film because his interpretation of it differed greatly than that of the studio and producers,’ the spokesman said.”

Weir’s departure will push back the SHANTARAM shooting schedule until a new director can be appointed (and presumably, a new shooting script written). “Warners has just begun talking to directors to replace Weir,” writes Variety, “but remains optimistic that production will start by spring 2007. . . . Depp is still expected to star” in SHANTARAM, Variety notes, since his company Infinitum Nihil is one of the producing partners, and since it was Johnny’s “enthusiasm” for Gregory Roberts’ novel that prompted Warner Bros. to spend $2 million for the rights.

The Zone thanks emma for breaking the news; you can read the full Variety story and a lively discussion about SHANTARAM’s future on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

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