Did Cronenberg nearly get a second chance to make his Total Recall?

News Ryan Lambie
23 Jun 2014 - 10:53

In a surprising interview, director David Cronenberg hints that he was once attached to direct the 2012 Total Recall remake...

For almost 40 years, director David Cronenberg has remained firmly outside the Hollywood studios system, and instead forged ahead with his own line in shocking, bizarre and philosophically troubling films. Cronenberg's had his hits - not least The Fly and A History Of Violence - but his successes have always been made away from the glare of executives and test screenings.

But in a Q&A with the equally wayward filmmaker John Waters at the Provincetown Film Festival, Cronenberg revealed that he recently had the opportunity to make a decidedly mainstream film: the remake of Total Recall.

Now, it's fairly well known that Cronenberg was heavily involved with in a production of Total Recall in the 1980s, back when it was a project headed up by producer Dino De Laurentiis. The director spent considerable time on the project, having written his own screenplay and overseen a considerable amount of production art. That incarnation of Total Recall never happened, and it instead became an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle directed by Paul Verhoeven.

To the best of our knowledge, it's never before emerged that Cronenberg was also involved with the remake, which came out in 2012. The Hollywood Reporter mention it in their report from the film festival, and it's dropped into the Q&A so casually that you might think that it's a simple mistake. Yet the article clearly states that Cronenberg was "famously the original director attached to the 2012 Total Recall remake before Sony went with Len Wiseman."

Cronenberg himself went on to say, "This is a big studio movie that's going to cost $200 million. They're going to give it to a guy who's directed a couple of rock videos because he's someone they can control. But it's not in my nervous system to do something like that."

It's clearly the 2012 film Cronenberg's referring to here and not the 80s production which sadly fell apart. So what happened? Did Cronenberg offer to make his original version of Total Recall for Sony, only for them to turn him down and go for Wiseman instead? 

We can only speculate at this stage, but it's mildly infuriating to think that, if true, we all missed out on a second chance to see what a big science fiction film from the mind of Cronenberg might have looked like.

Cronenberg's latest film, Maps To The Stars, is due out later this year.

The Hollywood Reporter

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