Studio Drops Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects Over Blake Lively Casting?

Billionaire backer drops film reportedly over Soderbergh's casting, meanwhile Catherine Zeta Jones signs on for a supporting role.

Steven Soderbergh's new psychological thriller Side Effects (i.e. his penultimate movie before making his Liberace biopic then retiring) has lost its financial backer just days after securing domestic distribution via Open Road. Variety reports that billionaire Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures have dropped the $30 million film, with rumours flying around that they had no faith in Blake Lively leading the psychological thriller as the troubled, drug-addicted young woman who gets entangled in a love triangle with her doctor (Jude Law) and her soon to be paroled husband (Channing Tatum). The movie is said to be a study of how drugs affect the mind. The news comes just as Deadline reports that Catherine Zeta-Jones has signed on for the project, which also has her husband and regular Soderbergh actor Michael Douglas playing another of Lively's doctors and adding considerable supporting weight. The film is based on an original screenplay from Soderbergh's The Informant and Contagion writer Scott Z. Burns. Despite losing financing, reports are that the April start date for filming in New York City is in place because international distribution is already secured, and backing from another studio is being sought and will likely be secured. I imagine because Soderbergh held his ground over Blake Lively's casting (otherwise she would be gone and backers Annapurna would still be here), reports that two of this year's Best Oscar leading lady nominees Michelle Williams, Rooney Mara and Brits Emily Blunt and Imogen Poots being alternatives if Soderbergh drops Lively are unfounded claims, unless Soderbergh really is concerned no other studio would offer him the $30 million to make this with Lively. There are reports that Paramount & Summit Entertainment were all ready to jump into bed with Soderbergh on Side Effects but weren't pleased with his casting decisions. Interestingly, an issue over casting is the major reason why Soderbergh is not prepping to helm Warner Bros blockbuster adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. because he wanted his names starring and WB wanted movie stars. He is a stubborn filmmaker who has made enough money (hell he is about to retire!) to stand his ground and not compromise for anyone. Gossip Girl star Lively, who earned great acclaim internally at WB for her supporting turn in Ben Affleck's The Town that won her the leading lady role in Green Lantern, hasn't yet sold a movie on her name alone and that is causing the doubts.
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.