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Madonna's Canceled Biopic Cost Universal $12 Million

On Saturday it was reported that Madonna's biopic was canceled because she wasn't seeing eye to eye with the studio regarding the film's direction (they wanted a film full of lollipops and rainbows, while her vision was more grittier).

Now it's being reported that the Queen of Pop's canceled biopic had already cost Universal Pictures up to $12 million before they ended up pulling the plug.

via The Sun:

First green-lit in 2020, the movie was set to be directed and co-written by the Like a Virgin star herself.

Ozark actress Julia Garner, 28, won the coveted role of Madonna after beating tough competition from other young stars such as Florence Pugh and Sydney Sweeney in grueling boot camp-style auditions.

Meanwhile, on the writing front, Oscar-winning Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody was brought on to pull the script together.

But in April 2021 The U.S. Sun reported that Cody, 44, had quit after finding Madonna too difficult to work with.

Playwright and author Erin Cressida Wilson was later hired to work on another draft of the script.

It is understood no final version was ever produced and there were conversations about splitting the movie into two or even making it into a miniseries.

A well-placed Tinseltown source told The U.S. Sun that the whole development process has likely already cost Universal between $10million and $12million.

It means that if another studio wants to pick the movie up, they would have to reimburse Universal for their expenses just to have the right to start again from square one, the insider said.

The source explained: "They started spending money on this project back in 2020, which included millions for Madonna and her manager Guy Oseary to license the rights to Madonna's story and her music, plus millions were spent on writing and directing fees for Madonna and Diablo Cody's top-of-class writing fee as a former Oscar winner.

“Then there was the dancing and ‘boot camp' elements of the casting process, which took months of everybody’s time.

“When you spend millions and millions on a project without a final script, there's going to be a gut-check moment, and that’s what happened here.”

Auditions for the project saw actresses drilled in 11-hour choreography sessions directed by Madonna.

They also underwent readings with the music legend and further auditions where they had to sing in front of her.

The U.S. Sun reported yesterday that Universal execs had been left less than impressed by Madonna’s bizarre social media posts in recent months while she was supposed to be working on the movie.

She has been embroiled in several controversies after posting a series of outlandish videos on TikTok and Instagram.

The insider said: "There is no doubt that Madonna is going to make more money on her Celebration tour than she would have if she had spent 2023 making the Madonna movie.

“This was never about money and Madonna has made more cash in her career than she knows what to do with.

"Making this movie was a chance to finally prove herself as a filmmaker and an artist outside of the songs and music videos she's known for.

“Remember, she has been married to two film directors, Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, and she wanted to show the world that she really learned something from the experience of watching those guys put their directing careers together."

Madonna previously directed two feature films, the dramedy Filth, and Wisdom in 2008 and W.E. in 2011 about King Edward VIII’s abdication of the British throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Her music tour is set to begin in July and will highlight music from the entirety of her glittering 40-plus year career.

It sold out shows in New York, London, Paris, and other cities within minutes.

As I stated before, I hope we get the biopic within the next five years, and I hope she considers collaborating with Netflix or Hulu, since her story deserves a miniseries rather than a two hour movie format.

I also hope she decides not to direct the film, and will hand over the directing reins to someone with more directing experience. Madonna is great at what she does when it comes to music, but filmmaking is a whole different animal.

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