Life of Pi is a the story of a young boy stranded in the ocean on a small raft with a tiger, but the story was almost too fantastic to get made into a movie.
As Entertainment Weekly reported, the film adaptation of the 2001 novel Life of Pi stayed on the shelf for a long time for 20th Century Fox as the studio struck out with three directors before finally getting the film moving.
Finally the studio settled on Ang Lee, himself a veteran of the fantasy movie genre with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But Lee had troubles of his own, spending eight months developing the project that led executives at Fox to begin having second thoughts about Life of Pi, Fox executives called Lee to tell him they were pulling out, but that he was free to shop it elsewhere.
As Entertainment Weekly reported, Lee went to bat for the nearly $120 million film:
“He arrived willing to compromise on the budget (sources at the studio said the film ended up with an $85 million pricetag) but he brought a lot more than that. He’d already prepared a pre-visualization of the crucial shipwreck sequence, edited and scored, and a taped audition of Suraj Sharma – the first-time actor that would ultimately be cast as Pi.”
With Lee’s weight behind the movie, Life of Pi was back on track. Now, with the film’s release it is generating considerable buzz. As Reuters noted, the film explores weighty themes much like Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, while still being an accessible film for audiences.