Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick has never been the timeliest of filmmakers, though in the last three years alone, the director has released The Tree of Life and To the Wonder while Knight of Cups and an untitled project he filmed back-to-back with it await release.

This is all ignoring the fact that Malick’s project The Voyage of Time has been in production for over half a decade, and unsurprisingly, investors Seven Seas Partnership have had enough sitting around while the director nurtured other projects, filing a lawsuit against him and his production company Sycamore Pictures for breach of contract, THR reports. Under the terms of the suit, they not only want their $3.3 million back, but also all intellectual properties related to the project and the lost profits the film would have made.

Though Malick is a firmly-respected filmmaker in Hollywood, it’s hard to blame the investors for having lost patience with the notoriously methodical director. The first official word on The Voyage of Time came when Malick was prepping The Tree of Life, and it would similarly encompass a depiction of the universe both coming into existence and dying, and would feature narration from Brad Pitt and Emma Thompson.

The lawsuit states that Malick “was supposed to direct two 45-minute Imax films and a 90-150 minute feature film version of ‘Voyage of Time”. In addition to this, the investors note that an unnamed Oscar-winning VFX artist quit the movie “because no amount of special effects could cover up the fact that no movies existed”, and online reporters believe this to be The Tree of Life’s Mike Fink.

The investors also claim that Malick asked for more time and money in 2012, which they agreed to on the condition that the film would be his top priority, something he refused to agree to. Worse still, there’s the allegation that Malick used funds provided for Voyage to finish work on his other films, while Malick’s lawyer asserts that the film was “on budget, on schedule, and all funds were used appropriately”, something that’s difficult to take seriously given Malick’s absolute lack of a clear schedule – his work is done when it’s done.

One could argue that you know what you’re getting with an enigma like Malick, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the man was paid to do work and has so far failed to deliver. This will likely result in one of two consequences – we will never see The Voyage of Time, or Malick will scramble to finish it to extricate himself from hot water. Isn’t it ironic that a filmmaker once derided for spending so long meditating between films now appears to be up to his neck in projects to complete? Oh, Terry…

Do you think we’ll ever see The Voyage of Time? Let us know in the comments below.

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This article was first posted on July 22, 2013