Mike Fleming

Between The Mummy franchise, Van Helsing and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, director Stephen Sommers hasn’t made a movie outside the studio blockbuster system in about 13 years. He doing just that right now, getting underway this week on an adaptation of the Dean Koontz bestseller Odd Thomas, a series that’s expected to spark three more novels and perhaps a film franchise. The film stars Anton Yelchin as a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities who encounters a mysterious man surrounded by dark, threatening forces. The cook’s unique abilities, which include an ability to speak with the dead, help him protect his town and family. The pic also stars Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Curtis Jackson, Nico Tortorella and Patton Oswalt. Sommers is producing with Fusion Films’ Howard Kaplan and John Baldecchi.

Sommers said the movie is unlike any he’s ever made, down to his decision to write the script without having the rights from Koontz, who has been burned enough by the movies to be wary. “My wife is mad about Dean Koontz, and I got the book from her,” Sommers said. “I loved the title and read it in two days and wrote the script in January. I didn’t get the rights until June.” Studios didn’t exactly knock down the doors, at least not so far. “At the studios, it’s all about movies based on toys, video games and comics,” Sommers said. “I’ve done them and that’s what the studios want from me. Dean and I went to AFM and raised the $27 million budget in two days.” That’s a far cry from the $160 million budget of G.I. Joe, but Sommers felt it was the right way to go for the material. “We’re trying to scare audiences and make them laugh. There’s a great romance. Studios usually want you to do one or the other,” he said. “Since we’ve got all the money, we’ll hold off until we’re done with production and see what happens.” Sommers is repped by CAA.