Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Disney is setting Edgar Wright to direct The Night Stalker, the remake of the ABC telepic and series that the studio is developing as a potential star vehicle for Johnny Depp to play intrepid tabloid reporter Carl Kolchak. Depp and his Infinitum Nihil partner Christi Dembrowski will produce.

Wright, best known for directing Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, comes aboard before the studio has set a writer, and he will oversee and shape the project with Depp and Dembrowski from the ground floor. As Deadline revealed, the film took root at the studio last summer, borne out of Depp and Dembrowski’s fond memories of the original 70s movie and series that starred Darren McGavin. He covered crime for a tabloid and his cases always led to supernatural perpetrators that included zombies, vampires, werewolves and aliens. Of course, neither his editor nor anyone else would believe him or allow him to run what seemed like outrageous stories. But Kolchak would put himself in grave danger each episode. David Kennedy will be exec producer of the film.

The subject matter will be tailored to fit Disney’s family film mandate and likely a PG-13 rating, but the idea of Wright’s hyper-reality style and Depp’s gift for constructing quirky characters sounds like a good match to me. Wright is also attached to direct Ant-Man for Marvel Studios and Disney.

The Night Stalker was one of two films that Depp and Dembrowski set at the studio. The other was a drama about the Midnight Ride made by Paul Revere to warn Colonial militia of the impending British invasion that made him a seminal figure in the American Revolutionary War. Jon Brown and Infinitum Nihil’s Margaret French-Isaac will be executive producers.

Depp next saddles up for Disney with Armie Hammer in the Gore Verbinski-directed The Lone Ranger. Wright’s repped by CAA, Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and UK-based Independent Talent.

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