The Sam Mendes-directed and Steven Spielberg-produced adaptation of Gay Talese’s book “The Voyeur’s Motel” has been quickly and summarily killed at DreamWorks Pictures reports Deadline.
The story first came to many’s attention with an April New Yorker article ahead of the book’s publication which will take place next month. It covers the story of lifelong voyeur Gerald Foos who opened a hotel primarily so he could watch guests having sex through ceiling vents which he claimed to do from the late 1960s through to the mid-1990s.
It was also indicated he was allegedly complicit in a murder he caused when he flushed the drugs of a dealer down the toilet and that dealer blamed his girlfriend and strangled her. Krysty Wilson-Cairns was brought on to adapt the story into a film script and reportedly delivered a strong first draft.
Then in July, a month before the book’s release, things started going pear-shaped as Talese disavowed his book, citing credibility problems, before he and the publisher changed their minds. At last report Dreamworks was still trying to figure out what to do next.
Now, Dreamworks and Mendes have effectively killed it due to two other filmmakers – Myles Kand and Josh Koury. The pair trailed both Talese and hotel owner Gerald Foos for a documentary feature which was apparently in the works for at least a year before the publication of the book – with Talese and Foos neglecting to tell Dreamworks.
Mendes and Wilson-Cairns recently watched a cut of the film and tells trades that afterwards they agreed they can’t make their film and believes the movie deal will be voided because no-one at the studio was told about the doco. Mendes adds that as frustrating as the situation is, he says the documentary is “absolutely terrific, a really, really good movie that has incredible footage in it.”
He goes on to say the book the studio bought is “absolutely not the definitive version of the story it was claimed to be” and that the: “documentary is really part of the story, in the sense there are things that happen that were spurred on, even suggested by the documentarians. So the story became infinitely more interesting and more complicated, but impossible to tell in a narrative movie.”