Good Omens Tidbit #25 - A Bit of History on the Film

by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

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Good Omens Tidbit #25 - A Bit of History on the Film

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 05, 2006 10:52 am

An episodic guide to the development of Good Omens, the movie….

December 10, 1999

Terry Gilliam is all set to start adapting Good Omens, a book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Following a scoop at Aint-It-Cool-News, a source revealed to me that a Good Omens deal is imminent that will allow development to begin and for Terry Gilliam and Tony Grisoni to begin adapting the book for the big screen. If all goes well, it should begin shooting, with Gilliam at the helm, after The Man Who Killed Quixote is complete.

February 20, 2000

According to reliable sources, Gilliam and Tony Grisoni have stopped working on the adaptation of Good Omens to the big screen. In early December, it was announced that Gilliam would direct a film of the novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Charles Roven was named as producer, and also it was stated that Gilliam would set to work with Fear and Loathing co-writer Tony Grisoni on a script. However, in the absence of a firm deal on a prospective Good Omens film, Gilliam and Grisoni have decided not to proceed at this stage on script development.

August 29, 2000

IGN Filmforce spoke to Terry Gilliam a few days ago, and have determined that a deal has been signed for him to develop a script for Good Omens, which he is scheduled now to direct after Quixote is finished. "A British company, Renaissance Films, are handing over some money to us to write it and hopefully make it after this one," Gilliam told FilmForce's Kenneth Plume on 25 August.

October 22, 2000

Screen International reports on the slate of projects that UK-based Renaissance Films is working on. This includes the Good Omens project which Gilliam is set to write and direct. The report says "Terry Gilliam has for the second time this year secured financing out of Europe for a large-scale production, partnering with the UK's Renaissance Films to direct $50m comic fantasy Good Omens. The Gilliam picture is being adapted by the director and Tony Grisoni from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's best-selling book. UK and US-based Marc and Peter Samuelson are co-producing with Charles Roven's US-based Atlas Entertainment. The picture, which is to shoot in the UK late 2001, tells the story of an angel and a demon sent to Earth to track down the Antichrist. Renaissance's involvement in Good Omens comes after Gilliam this year secured financing from European sources including UK National Lottery franchise Pathe Pictures and France's StudioCanal for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote."

January 25, 2001

Another report from Gilliam: "Tony and I have finished the first draft of Good Omens - 150 pages. The knives are being sharpened for the carving up/down. Still a lot of work to do on it."

March 20, 2001

"You can report that Good Omens is proving to be :censored: difficult to reduce to the :censored: :censored: :censored: limitations of a two :censored: hour film."

May 6, 2001

Looks like the script is nearly finished and pre-production can commence. According to Gilliam, "Tony and I may have actually finished a sufficiently good enough draft of Good Omens to start moving forward with the business of making it."

July 3, 2001

Gilliam reports to Dreams the following: "Tony [Grisoni] and I have finished what I hope is the final draft of Good Omens. Now we start casting and bringing on a few heads of key departments to try to work out what the thing is going to cost." Look out for casting news here in the future.

August 2001

Neil Gaiman posts to his website the response Gilliam gave when asked how the project was going. Gilliam said, "I'll warn you in advance that we created a very different climax. And we dropped favorite characters. We added some scenes involving cattle drives in the Old West and song and dance sequences from our favorite Bollywood films. We also tried to make the Metatron more Jewish for the sake of the financiers. Woody Allen would be perfect...or maybe Mel Brooks. Then there is the snuff movie that Crowley is producing which we get to see in utterly graphic detail...we thought it would make him more active in believable evil. And we eliminated most of the comedy. I felt it held the book back from being the 'great and profound work', which we hope the film will be."

November 2001

Speaking to Reel.com, Gilliam said, "We're in the process of trying to get the money. We want to be shooting next Spring. I've got a couple of big actors in two of the parts, and we're trying to see if somebody's now going to give us all the money we need to try and do it. Unfortunately, it's quite expensive, this one, the most expensive thing I've ever done. And that's exactly the process we're in; I can't tell you who's in it yet, or any of those things."

November 12, 2001

The Chicago Sun-Times exclusively reveals that Joseph Fiennes and Christopher Lambert would be playing the two angels Crowley and Aziraphale in the film. Soon afterwards, Gaiman's website refuted the item.

January 7, 2002

John Nefastis sent a report to Aint It Cool News. He had spoken to both Gilliam and Gaiman in the previous couple of weeks. Gilliam said that he planned to start filming Good Omens in April, and that they've been sorting out the final script re-writes and the budget. Nefastis states that Gilliam said reducing the book into a two hour film has been a tough process, and some more work was needed on the script to bring the budget down. "It's a tricky thing when you take a book like that that's so dense, so full of wonderfully funny, smart writing, and you try to reduce it to a two-hour-plus movie. And some of my favourite stuff from the book is not in there. It's like cutting limbs and arms off of this child, and hoping there'll still be something left of it at the end. It's such a big special effects film it's ridiculous. Every scene has got something in it. And I've got to create heaven and hell."

Nefastis commented that Neil Gaiman was looking forward to the movie. Gaiman said, "The last thing I've heard he has figured out a way to put the footnotes in. He's very proud of the footnotes. He told me there will be pointy arrows, during scenes like the baby swap. In the scene where we have three babies moving round he wants signs with 'Baby A', 'Baby B' and 'Baby C'. And I thought 'Good, he understands the book, he understands how to do it more than I ever did.'

Gaiman continued: "I remember Terry Pratchett and I went out to Hollywood together and had one of those great awful, aborted film experiences which everyone should have, that was magnificently dreadful. After that we said 'We're done on anything to do with Good Omens films, forever'. And we spent years saying no to anyone who wanted to buy it. Then Terry Gilliam came along and it was like 'Not only can you buy it, we'll happily pay your cab fare home.' We liked him. People say are you involved in the film, and we say 'no'."

January 25, 2002

Neil Gaiman's web site today: "And the Good Omens movie news sounds good as well. They're gathering together the last of the money and hope to be shooting by summer. I shall keep my fingers crossed. ('It'll never happen' points out a phantom Terry Pratchett, very sensibly, in my ear.)"

February 14, 2002

Variety reports that the two leading roles in Gilliam's Good Omens have been offered to Johnny Depp and Robin Williams. From the journal,
"Gilliam has exited the United Talent Agency and signed with Endeavor, which will try to heighten his Hollywood profile. He's also got two promising films he wants to do back-to-back. Gilliam is in talks with Johnny Depp and Robin Williams to star in Good Omens, which he and long-time writing partner Tony Grisoni adapted from the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, about the battle between heaven and hell to track down the newborn antichrist after it is misplaced at the hospital. Gilliam and Grisoni then will do another novel adaptation they've already scripted of Mitch Cullin's Tideland, which is set with producer Jeremy Thomas."

February 17, 2002

Justin posted the following to the Dreams Messageboard: "I just met Neil Gaiman at a convention yesterday and got a chance to talk with him about the Good Omens project. He told me that he had lunch with Gilliam last week, and there are major developments afoot, but Neil was sworn to secrecy. He did imply, however, that casting was nearly finished, and explained that Renaissance Films is very eager to put this film out. He said that what we are basically looking at is that in about two weeks time, one of two things will happen: funding will finally be in place, and the shooting schedule and cast list will be released, -or- the whole project will be put on that already crowded shelf, and Terry will begin filming Tideland."

March 20, 2002 - RUMOUR

Andrea posts on the Dreams MessageBoard - who claims to have just interviewed Gilliam in Italy, and has 25 minutes on video. "He talks of everything... Good Omens collapsed and on Monday he met the producer who owns the rights for The Defective Detective. Good Omens collapsed because there was no money to do it. He said also that if he doesn't do a movie this year he'll go crazy."

March 22, 2002

Over to Neil Gaiman at his website for clarification: "Someone asked me whether I knew anything about the rumours that the Good Omens film had collapsed. Not that I know of. They've been having trouble putting together the money (65 million plus) for some time, and the last time I saw Terry Gilliam he mentioned that if it didn't happen soon, he'd go off and do Tideland, which will cost infinitely less, because if he didn't make a film soon (given what happened to Quixote) he'd go crazy. As far as I know, if that happens, it means that Good Omens simply goes down to next-on-the-list while the producers spend the intervening time trying to nail down the financing.

"The script is good, the cast seem committed, and the producers have the foreign financing in place. What they need is a US studio to commit some money (I think it's about $15 million) to the project, and no US studio seems ready to take the plunge yet. My attitude on all Hollywood things is not to expect any of them to happen until I'm sitting at the premiere eating my popcorn. Worrying about the ups and downs of getting a film made could drive anyone to drink."


The above was edited by Phil Stubbs

June 27, 2006

Gilliam Hopes for Good Omens
by Christopher Campbell
Posted Jun 27th 2006 2:32PM
www.cinematical.com

Now that Terry Gilliam has made the two most disappointing films ever (for a huge Gilliam fan like myself, anyway), he will hopefully return to the kind of brilliant work that made him one of the most visionary auteurs of our time. Good Omens sounds like the right project for his comeback, and it is one that has been associated with him for some time, only to constantly be put on the back burner due to difficulties with funding. Unfortunately there are a few reasons why such an ambitious film isn't likely to be coming for awhile. Gilliam's last passion endeavor, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, ended horribly (it wasn't finished) and his most recent big studio picture, The Brothers Grimm, was a flop. Plus, Good Omens is based on a comic fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which is somewhat similar to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide series in that most of the good parts are in the exposition, not the plot, making it less hilarious in translation to the screen. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as good as it was, wasn't great like the books are. It also wasn't a huge enough hit to have financiers knocking on Gilliam's door for something similar.

Regardless, Gilliam is making the attempt again on Omens, telling the UK's Teletext, "I have struggled to find big projects that inspire me, but this book has. It's ... about the Anti-Christ and devils and angels, it's very funny and inspiring." There is already a script, likely the version by Gilliam and Tony Grisoni, and it is probably safe to say that Robin Williams and Johnny Depp remain the top choices for the casting of the two main characters, Aziraphale and Crowley.

I'm crossing my fingers that this film gets underway soon, and I'm praying that it comes out at least as great as Twelve Monkeys, if not as great as his best.

July 2006

Neophyte posted a link to an interview with a Terry Gilliam.
http://www.johnnydepp-zone.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=28071
Gilliam indicated in the interview that there is now a producer attached to GO (Steven Evans, who produced The Reckoning). Gilliam is looking to film in the winter. But unfortunately, he said that Johnny Depp would not be available until the summer.




Sources:
http://www.smart.co.uk/dreams/gofact.htm
http://www.cinematical.com/2006/06/27/g ... ood-omens/
http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/?p=653
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Unread postby neophyte » Sat Aug 05, 2006 3:08 pm

For a small update on GO-the-film progress, check the new Q&A posted on Dreams. These questions were asked of Gilliam last weekend (oh, also note the update on Quixote - surely good news).

http://www.smart.co.uk/dreams/askterry.htm
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Aug 05, 2006 3:39 pm

Thanks for the link, neophyte! Definitely good news about Don Quixote not so much about Good Omens. Digits crossed for both projects to be up on the big screen. :hope:
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 05, 2006 11:50 pm

From the Q&A:

For your next project would you prefer to do that, or would you prefer the bigger budget?
It doesn't come down to that. It's whatever the project is that captures my imagination and what that requires. At the moment we've been trying to get Good Omens off the ground, and that's a very expensive movie, and it's proving to be very frustrating, because it's much more dependent on 'A' list actors, and therefore we are much more dependent on other people, whereas if we were working with a smaller budget it's usually easier. Yet Stephen Evans, the producer of Good Omens, says it's sometimes easier to raise 80 million dollars than it is raising 8 million dollars. It's just very hard these days to get any film off the ground.

At what stage is Good Omens?
Well, it's very costly, and trying to put together the right cast is going slower than I'd hoped. Everybody wants there to be 'A' list actors involved. It's really busy out there at the moment. So I'm not getting the responses I'd want. It marches on, but it's frustratingly slow.

Is the cash there if you want it?
The cash is dependent on the 'A' list actors. This is one of the real problems with making expensive films, you are dependent on so many other elements. It's not like you come up with an idea and you need to raise a few million dollars, and go off and make a film. In particular at the moment Hollywood, where we are ultimately going to get money from, has become very cautious and conservative. So I don't know where we're going to go yet. But we march on.

I understand there's been some movement recently with your Quixote script.
Yes, apparently on July 4 it was the end of the legal battle between the production company and the insurance company. It appears that everything is now coming back to us. It's just lawyers resolving all the fine points now. There doesn't seem to be anything that's going to stop that happening. Maybe it's going to be a couple of months before everything is going to be resolved, and until I actually get the thing and see the signed documents, I'm not going to look at the script.

Have you had any thoughts as to who you might cast as Quixote?
No, because I refuse to let my brain run loose on Quixote at the moment. The order of events will be very simple. If and when everything comes back to us, I have to then talk to Mr Depp and find out when he's available, and then we know how to start proceeding with it.

Thanks, Neophyte, for posting this. I didn't know of the update on the site. :dunce: I think this all sounds hopeful. I get the impression that Gilliam is dragging his feet on GO because he wants Johnny. Personally, I'd rather he wait until he is available.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby gilly » Tue Aug 15, 2006 7:22 am

That was a very interesting read Liz :disco: I remember that he had raised $45 million for the film at one stage ,but couldn't get the required extra $15 million that he needed,because Johnny wasn't a big enough attraction :-O Terry must know that Johnny is unavailable ,with Pirates 3 filming,up to November..I've even seen it written that production could go on til March 2007,but that may be post-production..Then I read today that Sweeney Todd is meant to start filming in Feb 2007...It's all getting a bit hectic,trying to juggle all these projects.. :-O
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:32 am

If Sweeney Todd is a go for February 2007 I wonder what that means for Shantaram. I sure hope it gets back on track. Wonder about The Rum Diary too? :-?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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