Casting Harrison Ford Hasn’t Been Less Risky For Studios | Daily News Byte

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“Witness” is expected to be the first American film directed by Peter Weir, who made a small international splash with “Picnic at Hanging Rock” in 1975. While studios were confident in his directing abilities, they was less confident as he had never directed outside of his native Australia before. Because of that, there is a high risk of people not wanting to watch a movie by a relatively unknown director.

However, perhaps the most important explanation for why studios were hesitant to pick up “Witness” in the first place is its setting. If you’ll recall, “Witness” is primarily set in an Amish community outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which eventually becomes integral to its main conflict. According to Edward S. Feldman, studio executives expressed reluctance to detail this plot, even after rewriting the script by Earl W. Wallace and William Kelley to slow down the Amish history. In his autobiography, the producer recalled what 20th Century Fox executive Joe Wizan told him as he turned down the new pitch.

“It was when I heard those immortal words, ‘Ed, we don’t make rural movies,'” Feldman wrote. “Wizan doesn’t believe films about rural communities make money.”

However, after several failed attempts to get it greenlit, “Witness” finally found a home at Paramount Pictures. Needless to say, this proved Wizan’s original hypothesis wrong — this rural and controversial film grossed over $116 million dollars worldwide on a $12 million budget. Well, you know what they say about hindsight — it’s usually 20/20.

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