I’ve confirmed that those pickup shots which I first reported that Universal has scheduled for September on Little Fockers are now more than half a dozen full-blown scenes, including 4 with Dustin Hoffman. The notoriously difficult actor was written out of the Meet The Parents threequel altogether when Universal couldn’t reach a deal with him. But John Hamburg and Jay Roach helped convince Dustin to reprise his role which is “not dissimilar to what we were pitching him in the beginning,” an insider tells me. Hoffman won’t come cheap. “It’s costing what we were going to pay him in the first place,” my insider explains. Fortunately for the studio, the film was under budget, but even so it’s at least a $100M film. Hoffman will star in some pivotal scenes opposite Barbra Streisand, and then in a big scene at the end of the movie involving all the major characters. Other pickup scenes focus on Ben Stiller and the kids. Universal continues to spin that Little Fockers could have gone out “as is” since it scored an “85″ for the top 2 boxes with test audiences. ”But we want to make it better. It’s an investment in the future of the franchise.” So we’ll see whether the threequel still set for release in December kills Universal’s golden goose.
As I’ve said before, watching the sausage being made when it comes to major studio laughers isn’t pretty. At one point, Universal contemplated replacing director Paul Weitz with producer-writer Hamburg. But that would have resulted in a DGA mess. Plus, Adam Fogelson had just taken over as chairman and didn’t want to throw the already traumatized studio into a worse funk. So the decision was made to fix the movie in post. Then, Weitz, Hamburg, Jay Roach, and Ben Stiller spent two months going through the footage and decided the week of pickups with all the principal cast was required.