Back in April, we reported on James Bond director Sam Mendes’ upcoming film, The Voyeur’s Motel. The movie was set to be based on Gay Telese’s fascinating New Yorker article of the same name, an account of the life of Gerald Foos, a self-styled researcher in “human sexuality” who transformed his Colorado motel into a voyeur’s paradise by installing hidden cameras and ventilation shafts through which he could spy on guests. The project seemed like a perfect fit for Mendes, both because many of his films have focused on the tawdry emotional underbelly hidden in regular suburban life, and also because of all of the stuff about spies.
But now, real life has slammed a window shut on Mendes’ directorial intent. The director (and his partners at DreamWorks) recently learned that Talese and Foos were quietly concealing the fact that filmmakers Myles Kand and Josh Koury were also making a movie about Foos’ life. And while Mendes was quick to heap praise on the pair’s documentary—calling it “absolutely terrific, a really, really good movie that has incredible footage in it”—he also said told Deadline that “Well, that just finishes the movie.” (Ironically Mendes learned about the documentary from Deadline itself, noting that he read about it in their “esteemed…what would you call it, an organ?”, because no part of this story can be entirely clear of a weirdly sexual taint.)
Mendes said he felt “blindsided” by the existence of the documentary project, which apparently has a similar meta-fictional approach to his own plans for the film. And so, he decided to pull out of the million-dollar deal to acquire the rights to the article, cutting Foos and Talese off from a massive payday. He did encourage viewers to go see Kand and Koury’s doc—still untitled—when it makes its way to theaters, though, which will hopefully come as some consolation to everybody involved.