UPDATE: I’ve begun hearing directing candidates to replace David O Russell for Lionsgate’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies: Mike Newell (Prince of Persia) is the early front runner, but they are still meeting filmmakers and I am hearing Descent’s Neil Marshall is in the mix. Details below.
EXCLUSIVE: One of Hollywood’s biggest directing gigs looks done. Darren Aronofsky’s deal to direct 20th Century Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 is close enough that discussion has turned to shooting the sound stage portions of the film in New York so the filmmaker and Hugh Jackman don’t have to inconvenience their families. A March start date is being eyed so that Aronofsky has time to open Black Swan and be available for the inevitable awards season obligations. When the New York scenes are completed, they’ll head to Japan to shoot the bulk of the Christopher McQuarrie-scripted movie. Deadline told you last week that Aronofsky had set his sights on Wolverine after passing on the Warner Bros period crime drama Gangster Squad.
With the Wolverine job all but sealed, what’ll be the next hot job helmers will compete for? I’m told a lot of directors are lining up for Lionsgate’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, the Seth Grahame-Smith revisionist novel that enhances Jane Austen’s tale of class and manners in 19th Century England with the much-needed infusion of bloodthirsty brain-eating zombies. I’m told that after Natalie Portman backed out of playing Elizabeth Bennet, David O Russell had Scarlett Johansson ready to play the heroine and Bradley Cooper to play Mr. Darcy. Then, Russell himself left to focus on his collaboration with Vince Vaughn Old St. Louis and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune at Sony. Read More »
Scratch the Warner Bros period crime drama Gangster Squad from Darren Aronofsky’s Things To Do List. That Will Beall-scripted picture momentarily seemed to be the only thing in the way of the Black Swan helmer reuniting with his Fountain star Hugh Jackman in the Christopher McQuarrie-scripted X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 at 20th Century Fox. The festival acclaim for Black Swan has put the filmmaker in hot demand (there was also a reported flirtation with Superman) and now it’s a matter of dealmaking isn’t easy. Word is that Aronofsky–who worked for next to nothing upfront to get Black Swan made is in the throes of landing a healthy payday in the vicinity of $5 million against 5% of gross. Fox hasn’t closed a deal yet with the filmmaker’s CAA reps, but clearly Fox sees the filmmaker as ready to make that leap from modest grossing prestige fare like The Wrestler to the high gross stratosphere, the kind of leap made by filmmakers like Bryan Singer and Chris Nolan.
UPDATE: Don’t dress just yet for the Darren Aronofsky-directed Wolverine 2. There is outside competition for his next slot, including the Will Beall-scripted period crime story Gangster Squad at Warner Bros.
EARLIER: I’m told that 20th Century Fox has begun talks with Darren Aronofsky for X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2. Deadline revealed back on August 31st that Aronofsky and David Slade were the chief competitors for the job. Aronofsky and Hugh Jackman already have a close relationship after they made The Fountain, and Aronofsky recently met with Fox chief Tom Rothman seeking the kind of creative control he’s accustomed to. There was a lull in the talks when Aronofsky briefly flirted with directing Superman, but that job went to Zack Snyder. Meanwhile, Darren has developed some serious heat off festival showings of Black Swan. I’m not sure if he’s going to do Wolverine 2, but it’s his job if he wants it – and they are talking.
Despite the feeling that the first Wolverine was far from perfect, there is excitement about the next installment because of the script turned in by Oscar-winning Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie. Jackman has been quoted as calling it the best script he’s seen in the whole X-Men series.
Directors Vie For ‘Clash,’ ‘Wolverine 2,’ ‘Deadpool’