Hot ticket title The Voyeur’s Motel seems officially dead. The property – an adaptation of Gay Talese’s provocative non-fiction book that centers around a Colorado voyeur named Gerard Foos who built a motel specifically designed so he could watch his guest have sex – had lined up an A-list pedigree over at DreamWorks. Oscar winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) was looking to helm the film with Steven Spielberg producing; newcomer Krysty Wilson-Cairns had also reportedly written a well-liked first draft of the screenplay. All that effort looks to going nowhere now following a messy development process. Deadline was the first to cover this story.
The main reason for the film’s shutdown is that a documentary on the same subject appears to have beaten Mendes and company to the finish line. Reportedly, documentary filmmakers Myles Kane and Josh Koury had been following the bizarre Foos story for some time now and even were around while Talese was first researching for his book. According to Deadline, Mendes had no knowledge of the documentary previously and realized his film version couldn’t move forward after watching a first cut of the documentary along with Wilson-Cairns. Mendes stated:
She and I sat and watched the documentary and looked at each other at the end and said, ‘we can’t make our film.” What has come out of it is a very good relationship with an extremely talented and promising young writer and that has been a silver lining for me and DreamWorks. She did a great job, which makes it more frustrating from my point of view because we feel, to a degree, that we wasted our time. That does not feel great, but it’s what happened. It’s a very, very unusual situation I don’t think any of us anticipated.
This wasn’t the first hitch in getting The Voyeur’s Motel to the screen after some controversy erupted previously over the merits of Foos’ story; at one point Talese himself even disavowed his subject – a point that didn’t stick. It will curious to see what becomes of the documentary now, which will certainly have some buzz ahead of its eventual debut.
As for Mendes, who recently directed the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, he appears likely to direct an adaptation of James and the Giant Peach over at Disney.