The fate of the film version of Daniel Handler’s best-selling Lemony Snicket books, ”A Series of Unfortunate Events,” is looking as precarious as that of the woefully orphaned Baudelaire siblings. The primary problem: the proposed $100 million budget. Nearly $10 million was saved by moving the shoot from New York City to Wilmington, N.C., but when Paramount demanded another $5 million trim last December, producer Scott Rudin (”The Hours”) left the project and director Barry Sonnenfeld (”Men in Black”) publicly criticized the studio’s bottom-line stance.
In January, Sonnenfeld himself exited after DreamWorks agreed to cofinance, with the studio’s Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald overseeing production. ”Barry got a little tired of hearing Walter talk about how much Walter had done on [‘MIBII’],” says a Columbia executive. One of Sonnenfeld’s CAA reps disputes reports that the director’s departure was involuntary: ”It was an honest disagreement over budget.” (Parkes declined to comment.)
Jim Carrey, who is set to star as villainous Count Olaf, is now watching from the sidelines. ”Jim took a small [pay] cut on his last film,” explains a source close to the actor, referring to the upcoming ”Bruce Almighty,” ”and he didn’t feel it was his job to get between the director and the studio.”