MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

US Career Suicide – Episode #432

The very talented Mathieu Kassovitz has pretty muhc burned his last bridge in Hollywood by attacking Fox for the handling of his Vin Diesel starrer, Babylon A.D..
Complain about Fox as you like, there is no studio that wants a director who publicly attacks the work… or actors, for that matter. Only the very biggest can survive taking this position publicly… and Matty, you ain’t Sir Ridley.
A damned shame.
Of course, Kassovitz could easily be p[ushed to question WB after Gothika opened, spouting passive aggression in spurts… the kind of spurts that guys like me don’t report because the spurter doesn’t seem to know how self-destructive the choice is.
There is plenty of righteous indignation at restaurant tables all over L.A… but taking it public just doesn’t play when you want people to hand you tens of millions of dollars so you can express your art.
(Thanks to Anne Thimpson for digging up and displaying the corpse.)

Be Sociable, Share!

32 Responses to “US Career Suicide – Episode #432”

  1. LYT says:

    He can always fall back on acting…he’s better at that anyway.

  2. Noah says:

    Well Tony Kaye managed to salvage his career, but truthfully I don’t like Kassovitz has half of Kaye’s talent (in the directing department at least). Luke’s right, Kassovitz is a very good actor, he was excellent in Munich especially.

  3. mutinyco says:

    Anne Thompson wrote about it too…

  4. montrealkid says:

    Hey Dave, why shouldn’t Kassovitz speak out? Too often, studios meddle with films, and directors stay silent, too afraid to get work in the future. Fox was apparently nightmare on the set (when earlier reports said Diesel was the problem) and in the editing room and I’m glad Kassovitz is going public. Maybe it’s not the smartest thing to do career wise, but frankly, there is plenty of work in Europe out there for him and it’s not like Hollywood has done him any favors anyway.
    Where is your article about major studios signing onto to projects they have little or no idea about and then panicking when the film and director they signed on with actually starts shooting? I’m sure we could come it with a quick dozen examples over the past few years easily.
    Bravo for Kassovitz!

  5. I’m sure Kassovitz has some good points…but if you’re getting dragged through the mud from day 1, how do you let it get THIS far??? I mean…the guy makes no sense. He should have quit or got himself fired rather than get cold feet over a shitty looking movie that he basically nurtured into shittiness. People part ways on projects all the time. What a maroon.

  6. sloanish says:

    The guy obviously knows what speaking out will mean. I suspect he doesn’t want to do any more American films. Fuck Fox anyway, everyone who works with them has horror stories.

  7. Well maybe he can go back to France and make good movies like La Haine again. That movie is excellent and anyone who hasn’t seen it should get on it right away.

  8. IOIOIOI says:

    Fox and GENRE FILMMAKING seemingly do not go hand and hand. Bravo to Mathieu for stating it on the record. If it causes him trouble in the future. All he has to do is throw the Criterion of LA HAINE on the desk and; “That’s right. I gots the SKILLZ AND ZE TALENTS!”
    Seriously Heat; you are stretching with this case. It’s a freakin LABOR DAY RELEASED VIN DIESEL MOVIE, that’s most likely solid grade A crap. If a director with some skill and talent gets thrown to the curb for being honest about a studio who are stupid with genre films.
    Well partner… you and I disagree on terms.

  9. MDOC says:

    I think the point is to let the thing open. He could have waited three weeks to take his shots, he’s effecting box office. babylon may have opened. The first weekend has nothing to do with quality, right?

  10. EthanG says:

    Anyone read “Babylon Babies”? An AMAZING work, and if nothing else, Kassovitz deserves to give an explanation for why the film adaptation of a great work is a horror show.
    Does he deserve a lot of blame? Absolutely. But at least fans of the book deserve to know the studio was involved in hacking the beloved source material apart.
    Goldstein Steak: 20

  11. Spacesheik says:

    It’s about time Directors went public with about studios such as Fox defecate one their films, prunning them or cutting them down to pg-13 (Kassovitz’s complained the film was now 93 minutes long and his cut was about 15-20 minutes longer, more coherent and a better version).
    Fox is getting a pretty shitty reputation at this sort of meddling (didnt Tom Rothman order a crew to repaint the WOLVERINE set as well – that Director didnt like that much either).

  12. raskimono says:

    You know Dave, maybe he just doesn’t care. They make movies in France too and the pay isn’t that bad, the last time I checked.

  13. marychan says:

    After his terrible experience with BABYLON A.D., I doubt Mathieu Kassovitz has any desire to work in Hollywood again. (In fact, Mathieu Kassovitz had already said that he will go back to France to make movie)
    Mathieu Kassovitz was only a ‘hired gun’ on GOTHIKA, but BABYLON A.D. is Mathieu Kassovitz’s personal project; Mathieu Kassovitz developed BABYLON A.D. himself for many years before StudioCanal and Fox decided to finance it…… If I’m Mathieu Kassovitz, I would also be angry if someone want to ‘destroy’ my personal project.

  14. marychan says:

    Anymore, Mathieu Kassovitz said in that inbterview that he wasn’t allowed to do one scene the way it was written or the way he wanted it to be (during the filming of BABYLON A.D.)…. So it looks like Mathieu Kassovitz knew that his cut is suck, too.
    By the way, this Patrick Goldstein’s article explains why many famous directors and producers choose to stay away from Twentieth Century Fox.

  15. LexG says:


  16. Drew says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of Goldstein’s work, but that article nails it. NAILS it.
    At some point, David, when enough filmmakers offer up the exact same complaints, maybe there’s something to what they’re saying.
    It’s not about striking a reflexive “Fuck Fox” pose, either, so don’t even. It’s about the fact that they are truly the most miserable place in town to make a film, and no one with an ounce of self-respect would put up with what they do to filmmakers. At least, not twice.

  17. Krazy Eyes says:

    I say good for Kassovitz. He knows exactly the effect his statements will have on his career and he clearly doesn’t care. As others have said, he’ll still get all the work he wants in Europe (as either a director or actor) where he’ll be better served as a filmmaker anyway. The film world is a lot bigger than just Hollywood.
    At the very least he saved me $10 this weekend and added another DVD to my Netflix queue. The worst result of his statements is that he’ll probably never get a chance to release the full version of the film so we can at least see something that resembles his original vision.

  18. MarkVH says:

    “Who does this Billy Wilder think he is? How dare he bite the hand that feeds him!”
    “Mr. Mayer, I am Mr. Wilder. And go fuck yourself!”

  19. Martin S says:

    Wow. What an amazing thread.
    Len Wiseman is now apparently, an auteur. I must have missed something between Underworld 2 and Die Hard IV.
    Just so I got this right…
    Kassovtiz developed Babylon Babies for years, mainly with Studio Canal, but it’s not his book or original idea. He wanted Cassel, but ended up with Diesel. He signed and agreed to the Fox deal. It goes over budget and behind schedule. Now he rips it.
    Whatever Rothman did, it doesn’t absolve Kassovitz for being derelict. He developed it for years and still let it get out of control. How do you think he sold people on being the director? If the Fox contract was so imbalanced, why did he take it? Apparently, he should have had a better understanding with Canal or walked away as director when it was leaving his grasp. He wouldn’t have been the first to be in this position.
    Yeah, there might be a number of films where Rothman overreaches, but it’s not with this one, or F’ing Wolverine where Wiseman should be beyond grateful to get the shot. These guys aren’t auteurs getting screwed by the system.

  20. marychan says:

    Babylon Babies wasn’t Mathieu Kassovitz’s original idea, but it was Mathieu Kassovitz’s idea to adapt the novel ‘Babylon Babies’.
    Vincent Cassel was attached to play the leading role of BABYLON AD for a long time; but after this project get Hollywood money (from
    Fox), the leading role went to Vin Diesel instead. Rumor was that it is the reason why the friendship between Vincent Cassel and Mathieu Kassovitz was broken.
    [If the Fox contract was so imbalanced, why did he take it? ]
    The similar thing can be said to other filmmakers who get screwed by Fox…… Why did many filmmakers (who had unhappy experience with Fox) accepted Fox’s contacts if the Fox contracts was so imbalanced?
    Anyway, I was trackling BABYLON AD for a long time; based on what I heard/read, I think that both Fox and Mathieu Kassovitz have their faults. But it would be very unfair to lay all the blame on Mathieu Kassovitz.
    By the way, the director of WOLVERINE is Gavin Hood. (not Wiseman)

  21. marychan says:

    Little correction on my third paragraph.
    [If the Fox contract was so imbalanced, why did he take it? ]
    The similar thing can be said to other filmmakers (who get screwed by Fox) and Fox themselves…… Why did many filmmakers (who had unhappy experience with Fox) accepted Fox’s contacts if the Fox contracts was so imbalanced? If Fox don’t like the script (and many other aspects) of BABYLON AD, why they singed the deal to finance BABYLON AD?

  22. Martin S says:

    Mary – thanks. Why did I think Wiseman was directing Wolverine?
    I agree that both sides have faults. Fox is somewhere I would avoid because of Rothman’s approach to genre pictures. They’ve been treated like junk since the first X-Men, and when they hit, he whores them out with zero regard as to what it does to the property. And that’s my issue with Kassovitz; Fox has been like this for years, how could he not have known?
    As for Fox signing on, I think you’ve indirectly answered your own question. People who have genre properties know they’re going to get nickle-and-dimed by Rothman and stuck in a contract you’ve got little prayer of getting out of. So when a free-floating property like Bablyon comes along, Fox will jump on it. Look at how they sank FF, Alien and Predator franchises. IIRC, half the changes to League of Extraordinary Gentleman came from studio notes, especially the need for an “American” lead, which ignored Connery’s career.

  23. RudyV says:

    LXG…ugh. And here I thought it was a rather notorious producer who stunk that one up. “Film the comic!” the fans shouted, but instead of a zeppelin fight we get a car chase through Venice.
    And didn’t someone on the Watchmen thread say “This is the way Fox is, and everyone knows it?” Being a know-nothing dick is one thing, but it looks like they just want to screw everybody.

  24. Cadavra says:

    Wow, twice this week I agree with Lex. Weird.

  25. The Big Perm says:

    Yeah, the American lead for LXG was the dumbest thing. Like no one knows who Sean Connery is? How many huge movies has he been in? And then to stick in a lame, incompetent Tom Sawyer who has to be taught everything? I’ve never read the comic, but it sounded better than that movie.

  26. marychan says:

    Thank you a lot too, Martin S.
    Kassovitz wasn’t in Hollywood for a long time; and he signed the Fox contact in June 2005. So it was possible that Kassovitz didn’t knew Fox’s ‘reputation’ at that time.

  27. I’m not siding with FOX here and I’m sure Kassovitz has legit gripes but dude, did not the fact that you’re making a Vin Diesel pic that looks like an actioner (based on trailers and promo’s) that’s getting dumpe…errr…released at the end of summer not set off some alarm bells right off?
    C’mon….Kassovitz just figured out he was sculpting poop based on the final cut? Hard to believe…

  28. LexG says:

    Re: the presence of Diesel…
    As you can all imagine, there’s no bigger Vin Diesel fan out there, so I’m not dissing the guy at all, but, yeah, his presence front-and-center in a megabudget studio action movie in 2008 was kind of a surprise.
    Hasn’t he been laying pretty low (at least in this genre) for the last four or five years?
    It would be like a new Freddie Prinze Jr. romcom dropping in the heat of summer from a major studio this many years after his heyday.

  29. T. Holly says:

    Is this garden variety gossip? “Production on Babylon A.D. was delayed three weeks for personal reasons involving Kassovitz.”

  30. Triple Option says:

    Don’t top of line people sign no badmouthing agreements? Maybe not the fairest things in the world but I thought it was under their NDA’s or maybe some other part of their deal but I didn’t think they could go off and deliberately try to sink the ship?
    I think the guy (or any director) goes in with a love of the game attitude. If you had a passion project it’s gonna be your own determination that’ll push you to attempt the impossible or not get discouraged in the face of adversity. I mean I don’t know this guy or what he’s about but a lot of people will go into a situation just for the shot. I think it’s discouraging to find out that the worst part of all the bad circumstances, (which as a general rule can be merely temporary or conquered by positive pov), that those w/the greatest influence don’t seem to care. I think a lot of creative people can handle disagreements when it’s truly a creative position at stake but sacrificing art for commerce when the suggest commercial direction being suggested isn’t based on a “vision” but a collection of what should be’s that

  31. marychan says:

    Alex Proyas says that he will never work with Fox again because of his experience on I,ROBOT.

  32. RudyV says:

    “I’ve never read the comic, but it sounded better than that movie.”
    That goes without saying (and let’s not forget that Watchmen’s Alan Moore also wrote this one). In the comic Mina Harker was the brains of the operation and nothing more. A reader who had no broad knowledge of 19th century lit might never suspect she had anything to do with Dracula, and yet in the movie she’s a full-blown vampire. Tom Sawyer’s in, Fu Manchu’s out, the Nautilus sneaks beneath the Thames in the movie even though it’s presented as being roughly the size of an aircraft carrier, and then there’s the car chase. Through Venice. Yes, I know I mentioned it in my last post, but it’s so awful it bears repeating.
    I’m still waiting for a movie based on the comic book.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon