We can't imagine how or why, after the ordeals of Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, trouble could possibly find its way back to the set of a David O. Russell film. Alas, there it is — or, was, rather, in South Carolina, where only three weeks after resident cookie-choking expert James Caan quit the project, both the Teamsters and IATSE are grumpy and SAG reportedly shut production down because of "insufficient funds on deposit with the guild." And that's just the beginning, writes Nikki Finke:
Rumors also are circulating that the state of South Carolina could withdraw its incentive monies because of the financing problems. Filmmakers hope to resolve the cash crunch and re-start shooting next week since principal photography is only at the halfway point. "I am confident we will finish," an insider on the pic just told me. "The financing on this like most indies is based on bank loans and bridge loans. This is a matter of waiting on the bridge loan. Hopefully, it will all be resolved."
But new information coming my way says David Bergstein's Capitol Films behind the pic is troubled. In 2006, he acquired a leading UK-based international sales company which over the years had built a good reputation in the movie biz and made a wide range of commercial and critical successes, including Robert Altman's Gosford Park. But now I'm hearing from NYC film financing circles that "a shitload of people are owed a lot of money," in the words of one expert in the field. "I heard this week that his major financing source, a hedge fund, has shut down and left him in the lurch."
This isn't the first of Bergstein's hedge-fund gambits to capsize at an inopportune time; last year's attempted buyout of Image Entertainment acrimoniously fell through a few months back when its primary funder fell under scrutiny from its investors. That and Nailed's problems may or may not be related, but Bergstein's money woes are also said to be trickling down to his American distribution subsidiary ThinkFilm, which, since the schmogul acquired the company in late 2006, have consistently flirted with having more titles in the pipeline than it can afford to release. (We hear they're in arrears with at least one NYC screening room, but they've also won two documentary Oscars in five years, so judge that progress for yourself.)
Anyway, Finke notes that the cast — including Jake Gyllenhaal, Jessica Biel and Catherine Keener — are standing by, ready to work when shooting resumes, hopefully this week. We've seen flimsier houses of cards survive, but this might be one that's withstood all it can. Let us know if you have an eye on the weak spot.