EXCLUSIVE: Chad Damiani and JP Lavin have just been hired to adapt How To Survive A Garden Gnome Attack for Robert Zemeckis and his Imagemovers banner. The film is a live action film (the garden gnomes will be animated), based on the Chuck Sambuchino novel, which was optioned by Sony Pictures Animation. Zemeckis and his ImageMovers partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey are producing with The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Eric Robinson. The book is a survival guide, preparing the homeowner on the off chance the lawn ornaments stage a home invasion. The intention is to make an edgy PG-13 version, so the gnomes will be scary. Zemeckis is developing the film as a potential directing vehicle. The scribes’ most recent credit is Max Steel for Paramount and producer Joe Roth, and they adapted the comic book Geronimo for producers Alexandra Milchan and Antonio Moura Santos Jr. The writers are repped by WME and Luber/Roklin.
Universal has closed a two-year first-look producing deal with Robert Zemeckis and his ImageMovers shingle. ImageMovers will stay in its current headquarters and will not be based on the Universal lot. There doesn’t appear to be a specific movie that Zemeckis will make that triggered the deal; rather, studio brass just wanted to be in business with them. Zemeckis and partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey had a rather unceremonious exit from Disney, closing its Marin County animation facility and then watching the Zemeckis-produced performance capture film Mars Needs Moms flop badly at the box office. Zemeckis has devoted himself to the 3D performance capture format, but that seems to have run its course. Every studio is vying to have Zemeckis direct a live-action film, even though the studios know that his company deal is a very rich one. He is the guy, after all, who directed Cast Away and Forrest Gump, and he’s responsible for the Back To The Future franchise that was huge for Universal. Zemeckis has been mentioned as a possible director on several projects including the Paramount drama Flight, for which Denzel Washington has been mentioned as possible star.
EXCLUSIVE: Disney doesn’t release Real Steel until Oct. 7, but already DreamWorks is getting the machinery moving on a sequel to the Shawn Levy-directed drama that stars Hugh Jackman. I’m told the studio has commissioned John Gatins, who scripted the first film, to start on the second installment. It’s unusual to see that occur so early, but I can recall it happening when Warner Bros commissioned a Hangover sequel after early tests showed the movie was going to be a big hit. Development on the sequel’s just getting under way, and deals will have to be made with Jackman and Levy. Gatins is repped by UTA.
DreamWorks has gotten strong response to internal screenings of the film, and at a CinemaCon presentation of footage in Las Vegas. The film is a Rocky-meets-Transformers tale of a prize fighter whose pugilistic skills are rendered obsolete when human boxers are replaced by robots. The fighter (Jackman) becomes a boxing promoter and finds a discarded robot that wins and wins. The fighter also discovers he has a 13-year old son, who comes along for the ride as the robot heads toward the top against scary competition.