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Wednesday, 18 October, 2000, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Ali film 'on the ropes'
Will Smith
Training: Will Smith has been 'bulking up' for the role of Ali
A planned movie about the life of Muhammad Ali and set to star Will Smith is reported to have suffered a knockout punch.

The Ali biopic has been reportedly shelved for the foreseeable future because of wrangles over the film's budget.

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali reportedly picked Will Smith to take the lead
Columbia Pictures chairwoman Amy Pascal has cancelled production on Ali because of concerns that director Michael Mann would exceed the $105m budget, it is reported.

Reuters news agency quoted a source at the studio as saying: "He [Mann] couldn't convince the studio that he could shoot the movie to the agreed-upon sum."

Mann, the director of The Insider and Heat, is said to have offered to cut advance fees for himself and the star Will Smith, but studio bosses were not convinced.

Mann also offered to trim back the script and to cut out expensive locations.

Smith, the star of blockbusters Men in Black and Independence Day, reportedly earns $20m a movie with an additional 20% of the studio's revenue after the first $100m, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He is ranked the 10th most bankable Hollywood star in a new celebrity survey.

The paper also reported that Mann was to receive $6m up front for Ali, against a percentage of the gross takings of the film.

Will Smith
Sequel: Will Smith is now in preparation for the Men in Black sequel
If the movie is shelved it will be very disappointing for Smith, who has spent the last five months in training for the role.

The star has also been contacted by Ali, who reportedly singled out Smith as the only actor who could portray him on the big screen.

The cancellation of the film would mean that the sequel to Men in Black, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, would move ahead faster than originally planned.

See also:

18 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Men in Black win ratings battle
09 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Roberts heads Hollywood hot list
29 Feb 00 | Brit Awards
Will gets jiggy at the Brits
05 Sep 99 | Tom Brook
Rappers move into the movies
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