Walter Hill's next picture should be Headshot, a hitman thriller set to star Sylvester Stallone. Until now we believed that the film's second billed star would be Tom Jane, the man who was Stander and star of The Mist and The Punisher, as a cop who would team up with Sly's paid assassin.
Aint It Cool were first to report that Jane would likely not be in the film. They've got a hotline to Stallone, so it's not entirely surprising to see news appearing on their site.
The reason for Jane's exclusion? It has nothing to do with star Stallone or director Hill, but apparently "the studio" – ie. Warner Bros., and their belief in an old formula:
What I hear is that while Stallone and Hill like Jane for the part (they must since he's cast already), the film is now with Warner Bros' Dark Castle and the studio wants Jane replaced with someone more "ethnic" in order to meet an in-house formula-for-success. The word is that Jane's still the favorite for Hill and Stallone, but the studio is insistent on getting a minority in the role.
So, because one-white, one-black buddy crime thrillers have been a hit before, a film with two white leads will fail to appeal at the box office? Is there nobody at Dark Castle or Warner Bros. who sees the patent stupidity of this?
Of course, there's a lot of evidence that studios, not least Warner Bros. themselves, are keen on repeating formulas – witness our review of The Hangover Part 2 from yesterday, which reports how that second film is more or less a scene-by-scene remake of the first.
Tom Jane himself has provided a quote to Arrow in the Head:
No comment, but I can tell you this, we have a classic with me & Sly & Hill. Script is tailor made for us all.
What a ridiculous situation, and bound to be recalled, over and over, every time that Warner Bros. get involved in some stupid, racially insensitive revisioning (cf. Akira).