‘The Great Gatsby’ faced tough pre-production obstacles
NEW YORK – Engineering a film production that blends the jittery literary genius of F. Scott Fitzgerald with the extravagant visual talents of director Baz Luhrmann was a task that producer Douglas Wick said required years of tough negotiations, more than a little luck and one desperate sprint down a Culver City street.
As Wick (“Gladiator”) told it during a press conference for the release of “The Great Gatsby,” the production team came very close to missing the chance to bring Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge”) aboard as director.
“Our version was very lucky,” the producer said. “For about two years we had been trying to buy the rights to the book, and they were controlled by A&E, which had once done a TV movie of Gatsby. And so like everything magnificent about Fitzgerald, here were his rights to one of the great novels of the century held by this TV company and frozen there.
“So we negotiated for about two years, and it was a very tough deal,” he said. “Then we were just closing and had agonized over how do you ever make this movie work for a contemporary audience. The reason we loved the book is that it felt more about now than any other literature.
So one day we’re in our office on the lot at Sony, and we’re having an internal meeting with just two or three employees, and after the meeting a person who’s out in front comes in and says, ‘Oh, Baz Luhrmann was here.’ And I said, ‘Baz Luhrmann was here?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I told him you were in a meeting.’
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