Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the big surprises of the 2011 summer season, a franchise reboot that was both creatively refreshing and lucrative for Fox, who produced the film. The blockbuster made a name for director Rupert Wyatt, whose previously films barely saw U.S. releases. Wyatt became hot property in Hollywood — perhaps too hot. Last week, he reportedly left his role as director of the proposed sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
With Rise being such a success, Dawn is a top priority for Fox, with a May 23, 2014 release date already set. Now the hunt is on for a replacement, and Deadline has learned who is contention for the massive task.
Cloverfield and Let Me In director Matt Reeves is reportedly at the top of the list. A J.J. Abrams confidant, Reeves has been attached to direct a big screen Twilight Zone movie (although rumors are circling that since the announcement, he's left the project, making him free for Rise). He's demonstrated wizardry with special effects and, like Wyatt, his work on smaller scale dramas like Let Me In shows off a side that can handle the surprising amour of drama now established in the Apes series.
The rest of the list is an interesting mix of fresh faces and known talent:
J Blakeson doesn't have too many credits to his name, but his stylish thriller The Disappearance Of Alice Creed impressed a lot of folks. Like Wyatt, he's untested, but perhaps sports a vision that sounds convincing to investors of this massive blockbuster.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's career has been relatively quiet since he defied expectations and crafted an excellent sequel with 28 Weeks Later. His Clive Owen horror flick Intruders barely opened last year, but this wouldn't be the first big budget project he's become attached to. Fresnadillo previously developed a film based on the popular video game Bioshock that fell apart when the R-rated tone didn't pair with the budget. He's also connected to a remake of Highlander, although if he nabs the Dawn gig, the tentpole's release date may take precedence.
One of the bigger surprises is Jeff Nichols, who has wowed indie audiences with Sundance winner Take Shelter and the upcoming Mud, which debuted at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Nichols has dabbled in special effects — Take Shelter featured some astounding apocalyptic imagery — but nothing on the level that Dawn would demand. But he's a character director, and that's exactly what made Rise of the Planet of the Apes so mesmerizing. With the right collaborators, Nichols could emerge as a major Hollywood player.
Guillermo del Toro knows big budget filmmaking. He's previously helmed both entries in the Hellboy series, was slated to direct The Hobbit (before some monetary shuffling left him anxious to move on), and he has the mind-blowing Robots vs. Monsters picture Pacific Rim in the can for Summer 2013. Del Toro could handle Dawn's demands — thing is, why would he? With so much on his plate and a brain overflowing with creative ideas, there isn't much of a reason for Del Toro to pick up someone else's franchise.
When I saw Juan Antonio Bayona's The Impossible at the Toronto Film Festival, I knew we had our next Spielbergian filmmaker. Bayona's first film The Orphanage (produced by fellow shortlister Guillermo del Toro) was moody horror movie that transcended most modern ghost stories. The Impossible solidified him as one to watch, the film balancing impressive special effects work with a riveting human story that never backs down. He would make a daring choice for Fox.
Deadline notes that Rian Johnson's reps deny that he's pursuing the job, but that doesn't mean Fox isn't looking into him as an option. Whether his new film Looper will be a financial success, it works on a storytelling level, incorporating heady sci-fi ideas into a slick action movie. With Looper, Brothers Bloom, and Brick, Johnson has dedicated himself to telling stories that are personal and crafted from his own imagination. Unless he needs the cred, he may be in the same position as Del Toro.
So I leave it up to you: who should direct Rise of the Planet of the Apes?
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[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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Though his feature debut - the kidnapping thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed - didn't totally blow my mind, director J. Blakeson proved himself capable of building some serious tension with a limited premise. That skill will come in handy with his next project, as Heat Vision reports that the filmmaker has made a deal with Warner Bros. to helm Hell and Gone, a disaster flick depicting the events of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Jonah Nolan has penned a script about the event, which has me very interested. He hasn't really gotten a chance to step out of his brother Christopher's shadow, but with a new TV series in development (with J.J. Abrams producing) and this film, he'll have the opportunity to show that he can craft engaging stories on his own. Of course, he and Blakeson will be aided by veteran producers Donald De Line (Green Lantern) and Ed McDonnel, ensuring that the scope of the film will be massive and accurate.
The trade also notes that amid the chaos will be a love story to balance the horrors of the fire. Think Titanic. Without Celine Dion. Though I believe a 2012 style ensemble drama would be more effective, nothing sells movie tickets liked a doomed romance. I just hope that this won't discourage Warner Bros. from giving Brad Bird his chance to tell the story of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake - a project that has been in development for years and is quite similar in story and size to Hell and Gone.
Source: Heat Vision
If there’s one thing about film festivals that I enjoy most it’s the opportunity to watch actors accustomed to lavish sets personal trailers and assistants work in a more practical environment and with decidedly more dangerous material. Thanks to the wonderful programmers at the annual Tribeca Film Festival I got to see Matthew Broderick and Brittany Snow get delightfully debaucherous in 2008’s riotous Finding Amanda and Chris Klein and Elijah Wood question their patriotism in the 2007 existential drama Day Zero taking risks and showing audiences sides of themselves that Hollywood rarely allows.
This year there’s no shortage of name recognition on the TFF schedule. I was particularly excited to see J. Blakeson’s The Disappearance of Alice Creed primarily because of its cast of bankable performers but also because of its intriguing -- if familiar -- premise about a pair of ex-cons who kidnap a rich man’s daughter only to get entangled in a web of lies and double-crosses before they can cash out.
Unfortunately I re-learned the hard way that you cannot judge a book by it’s cover. Mr. Blakeson was incredibly lucky to catch Gemma Arterton (Clash Of The Titans Prince of Persia: The Sand Of Time) and Eddie Marsan (Hancock Sherlock Holmes) in between super-sized productions because without performers of their caliber inhabiting two of the three roles in the film it would’ve completely crumbled as a result of his formulaic and predictable screenplay. It’s not the dialogue that ruins the movie; it’s the forced twists thrown into the narrative that unearth more weaknesses than revelations.
The film begins with a procedural look at Vic (Marsan) and Danny (played with tense insecurity by Martin Compston) as they prepare for the coming kidnapping meticulously sorting out every detail in cold silence. Blakeson leaves the actual abduction of Alice (the stunning Arterton) to the imagination probably because the cruelty and horrific nature of the events that follow are traumatic enough to his audience. As we learn more about Vic’s all-too-common plan the aforementioned twists begin to unfurl handicapping the suspense by making this heightened cinematic situation a victim of plausible but cheap coincidences. From this point on The Disappearance of Alice Creed becomes a rather conventional crime thriller; I guessed my way from scene to scene all the way through the end credits.
The film’s victims in fact are its most endearing aspect. Though Alice’s broken relationship with her wealthy father serves as the catalyst for Vic an Danny’s actions don’t assume that she’s just another rich damsel in distress. Arterton gives the character resourcefulness and an inner strength that should be noted by aspiring young actresses. The 24-year-old Brit is a fearless performer who despite her blockbuster status shows that she isn’t afraid to get gritty in the harshest of scenarios. With her facial features and body language she conveys the primal terror that Alice experiences with total sincerity. Even more impressive is Marsan who is frighteningly fierce as the brains and brawn of an operation that he hopes will provide him enough cash to start a new life. The stakes are high and he never loses sight of the finish line or breaks from his character’s terrifying persona even in the face of deceit and defeat.
Though the film’s sharp cinematography and coarse production design will keep you visually engaged The Disappearance of Alice Creed falls short as a casualty of cliché. It borrows generously from other works within the genre be it Ron Howard’s Ransom or Rob Reiner’s Misery and sadly doesn’t give anything in return making for an awfully average and prescribed moviegoing experience.