Par lets TORSO rights lapse (

By:Rob M. Worley
Date: Friday, January 23, 2009

In spite of the recent accolades heaped on director David Fincher and his 2008 film 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button', Paramount Pictures has failed to retain the rights to 'Torso', the fact-based comic that Fincher aimed to begin filming this year.

Paramount has been developing the movie, based on the outstanding graphic novel by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Andreyko, since 2006. Word last year was that the film was attracting top acting talent, such as Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, and the Elliot Ness angle to the movie made it seem like a sure thing. However, later in the year stories began to emerge that time was running out for Paramount to renew their deal on the film. Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, that time has run out and no deal has been struck.

Accoring to the report, Paramount's ability to retain an "option" on the film expired. An option deal merely means that the party holding the option can pursue the development of the source material without competition. Further down the road that party would have to purchase the rights to the movie to actually make it. Last December Paramount arrived at a place where they could no longer extend their option and would have to pay up for the film rights or let the project go.

Some mark this up to tough financial times but other have speculated on the rocky relationship between the studio and Fincher over the cut of 'Benjamin Button'.

According to insiders, Fincher has expressed confusion by the siutation. 'Benjamin Button' made money for the studio while garnering numerous awards including Best Picture and Best Director nominations from the Oscars.

Fincher and the producers of the film are free to shop the graphic novel rights to another studio, but Paramount still owns the screenplay developed by Ehren Krueger. So they'd have to start over with a new screenwriter.

The Hollywood Reporter suggests that a more likely move would have Paramount striking a new deal with Bendis and Andreyko over the rights to the Graphic Novel to keep the current version of the project on track.

Series: Torso