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Maybe it's a good thing Steven Soderbergh is taking a break from filmmaking. It was Nov. 17, 2010 when The Playlist first reported Soderbergh and George Clooney would team for an update of '60s spy series 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' for Warner Bros. 366 days later, the same site reports that Soderbergh has left the project, and will no longer say 'U.N.C.L.E.' for the studio. What happened?

Lots of feet dragging. The Playlist has a pretty detailed autopsy of the separation -- per the site, an official announcement of the split is "imminent" -- but it seems this project was mostly doomed once Clooney had to bow out because of a back injury. Soderbergh apparently wanted either Michael Fassbender or Joel Kinnaman ('The Killing') to star in Clooney's stead, but the studio was lukewarm on both choices -- only to later cast them in other projects ('Londongrad' for Fassbender; 'Arthur & Lancelot' for Kinnaman).

Matt Damon and Johnny Depp circled the project at various points, and Soderbergh did meet with Bradley Cooper -- though no offers were apparently made. Last week, Channing Tatum was the latest name to surface for the lead role.

The Playlist reports that Warner Bros. came in with a $60 million budget number for 'U.N.C.L.E.' this week, which was the breaking point for Soderbergh, who apparently felt the continent-spanning adventure needed more money to produce.

This is the second time in recent years that a major Soderbergh studio project stalled before take off; he was famously removed from Sony's 'Moneyball' just days before shooting began. The project obviously later came together under the direction of Bennett Miller

If true, this means Soderbergh's final film before "retiring" will be 'Behind the Candelabra,' the Liberace biopic he set up at HBO with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

Meanwhile, 'U.N.C.L.E.' will presumably go back to the drawing board, where it can hang out with the similarly tough-to-make 'Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.'

[via Indiewire/The Playlist]

[Photo: Getty]



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