Life of Pi was as good as dead.
The film adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2001 novel, about a young boy stranded at sea with a ferocious Bengal tiger, had been on the shelf for a long time. 20th Century Fox had already approached three directors, who tried and failed to get an adaptation onscreen before bowing out.
The last best hope was Ang Lee, but while the Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon director spent eight months developing the project, it was the executives at Fox who began to have second thoughts.
This would not be a cheap movie — the budget was estimated around $120 million, and when the studio took a hard look at the project, they realized they had no idea what they were getting in to.
That’s when Elizabeth Gabler, President of Fox 2000 Pictures, called Lee to tell him that it was off. Fox was backing out, and he was welcome to shop the project elsewhere.
It wasn’t the last time he would have to fight for Life of Pi. Here’s how he brought this epic tale of survival back to life, over, and over again.