This is a pretty interesting story.
Back in 2001 filming wrapped for a remake of the 1941 film "The Devil and Daniel Webster". This film would also be called "The Devil and Daniel Webster".
The film had an all star cast headlined by Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.
Alec also directed the film making this his directing debut. Hewitt took the unusual role of the devil, thinking it would help her make the transition from teen roles to adult roles. Hopkins took the role for the money. The sweet, sweet money.
The film is based on a short story. The plot was as follows:
Set in New York City, a struggling writer (Baldwin) makes a contract with the Devil (Hewitt) to become a New York Times best-selling author in trade for his soul. The deal was that the devil got his soul in ten years. Soon the ten years are up and the writer hires ace lawyer Daniel Webster (Hopkins) to get him out of the contract. Then they go to trial.
It sounds like an interesting plot. I find it odd that so many stories use this or similar plots where the devil has to go door to door looking for souls. Doesn't the devil have a phone? Or email?
I also find a trial concept interesting. I would have had the late Johnnie Cochran play the devil's attorney. He could say "If the book sells well, you gotta come to hell."
Production wrapped on the film on March 13, 2001. Then the problems began.
I don't have the time, or even the organizational skills to put together a timeline for this mess. To put it simply: They ran out of money.
In September of 2002, Anthony Hopkins was asked about the fate of the film he said "They pulled the money out, apparently, so it'll never be seen, the producers have no money to finish it." Then he said "Now get me a bucket of fried chicken and some Three Stooges videos. Do it now! I am Anthony Hopkins, dammit!" Or at least that’s what I hope he said.
In 2004 the film was re-edited and Alec Baldwin asked to have his name removed from the project. The film then won a Naples-based Film Festival according to some websites that seem about as trustworthy as this one.
There are other websites that report FBI investigations of the financial problems of the film. Sadly, a whole bunch of people are owed a whole lot of money from this movie.
It is a shame. The one review I saw from someone who actually saw the film said it was "good" not "great," but above average and entertaining. I don't usually ask for more.
I hope that this fiasco doesn't hamper the odds of MY new movie succeeding.
I call it "The Devil and the Guy Who Played Webster". It will star Emmanuel Lewis.
Here is a script excerpt.
EMMANUEL LEWIS is in the Park looking at a balloon vendor.
Emmanuel: Man, I would sell my soul for some of those balloons.
Suddenly THE DEVIL appears.
The Devil: Shall we make a deal?
Emmanuel: Yes, my soul for those balloons.
The Devil: Done.
The Devil goes over and starts to pay the balloon vendor for the balloons. Then he remembers that he is the DEVIL and so he kills the man and takes the balloons.
The Devil: Here you go.
Emmanuel: Gee thanks!
Emmanuel takes the 20 balloons and is suddenly lifted up into the clouds.
Emmanuel: Uh oh!
The Devil: Come back here! I need your soul!
Emmanuel: Come and get it!
The Devil: Curses! Foiled again!
Then The Devil sits on the curb and cries.