But immediately after that incident, Foxx and his entourage packed up and left for good. "Jamie basically changed the whole movie in one stroke," a crew member says—and not, in his opinion, for the better. The ending that was supposed to be shot in Paraguay would have been "much more dramatic."
Asked about Foxx's departure, Mann doesn't speak for a moment and then says, "You hear the sound of silence."
Even before going to the Dominican Republic, Mann had written an ending set in Miami but then decided to go to Paraguay, then to remain in Miami, and then again to film in Paraguay. Now he went back to the Miami ending. "It was like turning an oil tanker around on a dime," he says. "But the Miami ending worked out to be the better ending. It brought all the conflicting characters together in one arena."
A few days before cast and crew were to start filming the final conflict, Hurricane Wilma struck Miami, heavily damaging the production office. At that point, Mann says, the power was out and "the city was dark." A high-level studio insider says this is where Mann's personality actually paid off: "Were it not for his insanity, his dedication, his knowledge as a producer, we would have been shut down," this executive says. "Michael was able to regroup in a week and restage the entire finale. … Any other director would just have to sit and figure it out. But for Michael's indomitable bullheadedness, it would have been much worse."
While the executive concedes that Mann's methods cost the studio time and money, Universal held on to the hope that the film, once put together, would be good enough to make the investment worthwhile. Mann's track record in terms of box office isn't that strong, but studio Chairman Shmuger says it's not all about lines at movie houses.
"The key on looking at the profitability of Michael's movies is that they've got a very long tail, well after the theatrical run," Shmuger maintains. "Everybody's seen Heat. Everybody's seen Last of the Mohicans. … [The films] do fantastically well in video, on all television outlets, overseas."
Universal knew going in that making an R-rated Miami Vice would chip away at the potential grosses, he adds. But the studio was committed to Mann's vision, "an extremely dark journey into the world of undercover." As a testament to the studio's belief in Mann, Shmuger says, Universal is making another film with the director called The Kingdom, about an FBI investigation of a bombing in Saudi Arabia. This time Mann is producing, not directing. The star is Jamie Foxx.
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