Will Smith Gets Ready to Fight

Published October 26th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A hefty project starring Will Smith as boxing legend Muhammad Ali is up and ready to rumble after reports that Columbia Pictures had canceled it for going over budget, according to Variety.  

Director Michael Mann and producer Jon Peters struck a deal with Columbia last week to keep the project alive, just days after top executives at the studio owned by Sony Corp. had shelved Ali over financial concerns, a studio spokeswoman said Tuesday. She declined to discuss details of the deal.  

But Daily Variety reported that Mann, Peters, and Smith agreed to cough up their own cash for cost overruns, and Columbia received a renewed commitment from its financial partner on the project, Initial Entertainment Group. Mann also offered to cut several days of New York location shooting.  

A studio source said last week that Ali initially was canceled because it appeared that Mann, a filmmaker known for his methodical attention to detail, would exceed the movie’s $105 million budget.  

Smith, the star of such blockbusters as Men in Black and Independence Day, reportedly regards the portrayal of Ali as the role of a lifetime and has spent months getting in shape to play the former heavyweight champion.  

Smith has also signed on to do a Men in Black sequel, which will reunite the original’s big names; director Barry Sonnenfeld, Linda Fiorentino, and Tommy Lee Jones. – Albawaba.com. 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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