Mike Fleming

Now that the X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 directing job went to Darren Aronofsky, The Hunger Games was gobbled up by Gary Ross and Zack Snyder got the Superman job, there are only a couple films left that have directors hot and bothered. One is Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, the Lionsgate film that David O Russell departed, and Mike Newell is still frontrunner to direct Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper. But for sheer ambition and budget scale, the big directing job is the James Cameron-produced Fantastic Voyage at 20th Century Fox. I’m hearing that Cameron’s choice is Louis Leterrier, whose last film, Clash of the Titans, grossed around $500 million worldwide for Warner Bros. Cameron and the studio have a strong Shane Salerno script, and Cameron’s Avatar designers have done everything but build sets for a film that could be ready to shoot early in 2011. Of course, the studio is still figuring out the budget and logistics, as is the case with the other major 3D pic that Cameron is producing, the Guillermo del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness at Universal. Fantastic Voyage is an ambitious re-imagining of the 1966 original about a team of scientists shrunk into a ship in an attempt to save a colleague’s life. Fox has been wary of the budget of a film that, from early in the script once they go inside the body, is almost exclusively CGI.

The project has had filmmakers Tarsem and Paul Greengrass attached, with helmers like Aronofsky, Timur Bekmambetov and Jonathan Mostow and Leterrier meeting over the past three months with Cameron. Leterrier is an intriguing choice. Clash wasn’t beloved because of its hasty 3D conversion, but it made a fortune, and Fantastic Voyage has Cameron lending his state of the art 3D expertise and equipment. Reports have Cameron’s oft-collaborator Laeta Kalogridis coming aboard to do script work, and the studio said the picture won’t go forward until that’s complete. I’ve heard that writer is only doing a quick polish, and that Cameron has a Salerno script that’s ready to go into production early next year. If Fox and Cameron intend to keep that start date–they might have to trim the budget to get the green light–they’ll have to sign a helmer in the next few weeks. Many of the available directors have landed on other films, like Aronofsky and Bekmambetov, who’ll direct Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.