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High Oscar hopes for 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' and Brad Pitt

September 29, 2008 |  8:59 am

Curiosity is huge around the $150-million production of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," starring Brad Pitt in a loose adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald 's tale of a man who is born 70 years old and ages in reverse.

In today's New York Times, Michael Cieply notes, "If it is all that Paramount executives hope, the movie, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, will also mark the birth of the next phase at the aging studio. Brad Grey, Paramount’s chairman, has been eager to show that he can sell tickets and win Oscars without the help of his DreamWorks partners — Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Stacey Snider — who are leaving to form a company of their own."


Screenplay is by Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for penning best picture champ "Forrest Gump" and was nominated for "The Insider" and "Munich."

"Around Paramount these days, that world is being referred to as 'Forrest Gumpian' — a hopeful reference to the studio’s earlier epic," notes Cieply.

Cieply tells the curious tale of how "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" finally made it to the screen.

Maverick producer Ray Stark took up the project years ago, originally imagining it as a comedy starring Martin Short. In the early 1990s, Stark teamed up with Kathleen Kennedy "in setting up 'Button' at Universal as something more than a comedy, with Spielberg as its intended director," Cieply reports.

But Spielberg got distracted by chasing dinosaurs ("Jurassic Park"), so the project moved over to Paramount, where Spike Jonze ("Adaptation") was initially tapped to direct. Later, it was put in the hands of director David Fincher ("Zodiac"), who also had ties to Warner Bros., which pulled that studio in. Warner Bros. took "Button's" international distribution rights. Paramount kept reins on domestic.

The good thing about the delay is that, with continued progress of digital technology, Brad Pitt is now in the movie from the first frame, says Paramount VP Rob Moore. READ MORE

Photo credit: Paramount