Keanu Reeves assassin thriller John Wick has not only earned a loyal cult following; it’s also made a real name for its directors, in the form of longtime stunt coordinators/second unit directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. The pair haven’t been resting on their laurels in the meantime, either – with Stahelski serving as a second unit director on Sacha Baron Cohen action/comedy Grimsby (arriving in 2016) and Leitch coming off having done second unit work on June 2015 release Jurassic World.
Leitch and Stahelski have been connected as directors to multiple developing projects in recent weeks, but it would appear their next film has been revealed at last. That would be The Coldest City, an adaptation of the Cold War spy thriller graphic novel – published in 2012, written by Antony Johnston, and illustrated by Sam Hart – that has Charlize Theron attached to star.
Deadline is reporting that Focus Features has picked up the North American rights to Coldest City, right ahead of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival getting underway. Leith and Stahelski are slated to begin production on Coldest City in Germany by October 2015, with Theron (who’s also producing) and the directing pair drawing from an adapted script by 300, 300: Rise of an Empire, and Act of Valor screenwriter Kurt Johnstad.
Here is the synopsis for Johnston and Hart’s Coldest City source material:
November 1989. Communism is collapsing, and soon the Berlin Wall will come down with it. But before that happens there is one last bit of cloak & dagger to attend to. Two weeks ago, an undercover MI6 officer was killed in Berlin. He was carrying information from a source in the East – a list that allegedly contains the name of every espionage agent working in Berlin, on all sides. No list was found on his body. Now Lorraine Broughton, an experienced spy with no pre-existing ties to Berlin, has been sent into this powderkeg of social unrest, counter-espionage, defections gone bad and secret assassinations to bring back the list and save the lives of the British agents whose identities reside on it.
Coldest City, by the sound of it, will see Leitch and Stahelski operating as directors on territory that they should be comfortable with after John Wick – a (cinematic) underground world of covert operations and deadly assassins, who live (and die) by their own rules and codes. The pair has thus far circled projects that clearly play to their strengths as storytellers (see also: the Cowboy Ninja Viking graphic novel adaptation), largely in the form of comic book adaptations that lend themselves to lower-budgeted, B-movie action genre feature films. Not that we’re complaining about that, mind you.
Theron, who is currently reprising her Snow White role as Ravenna in the spinoff The Huntsman (now in production), will next appear onscreen in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, as the hardened post-apocalyptic warrior Imperator Furiosa. The Oscar-winner may soon be enjoying a re-invigorated status (one that’s well-deserved, at that) as an action movie star, given the positive buzz surrounding Fury Road and the potential for Coldest City to become something special.
Similarly, it’s nice to see that Leitch and Stahelski are now being flooded with offers, having earned it after decades of hard work on studio tentpoles and their directorial breakthrough with John Wick. As mentioned before, the duo will make Coldest City next, before they start production on the Valiant Entertainment comic book adaptation Bloodshot (for a 2017 release target) – all the while continuing to develop the John Wick sequel that now has an official green light from Lionsgate.
One last thing to note: Leitch and Stahelski were previously rumored to be circling the Aquaman movie starring Jason Momoa. However, it’s possible that the rumor sprung from a mix-up with Coldest City, seeing as Johnstad is the main screenwriter on both projects. James Wan is reported to be the current front-runner to helm that WB/DC adaptation, with production slated to get underway as soon as late 2016. By that time, it’s feasible that Leitch and Stahelski will be gearing up to begin principal photography on John Wick 2 instead (and/or wrapping up post-production on Bloodshot).
It’s just well that Leitch and Stahelski look to be focusing on adapting interesting if less mainstream graphic novel material (rather than drawing from well-known comic book brands), and/or related prospective franchise-building tasks. Their work on John Wick showed the pair have a knack for constructing worlds and heightened close-quarter combat befitting the modern “Age of the Superhero Movie”. That likewise bodes well for their upcoming features, in particular titles like The Coldest City and Bloodshot.
The Coldest City begins filming October 2015. We’ll let you know when it gets a release date.