Nearly the moment a new set of Star Wars films were announced, Brad Bird began getting tossed about by fans as a possible director. One exuberant fan even produced a full-on campaign ad advocating Bird for the post. However, cooler minds were quick to point out that Bird already has a large commitment between now and 2015 that will almost certainly disqualify him from settling into George Lucas’s old chair: the mystery-shrouded Disney tentpole film 1952.

Some of the Internet’s more conspiratorial minds theorized that 1952 might in fact be the codename of the Disney Star Wars sequels, created to shroud production on the films before the official acquisition of Lucasfilm. As whimsical and wonderful a scenario as this is, recent reports on the development of both Episode VII and 1952 indicate that this is not the case. For one, the Star Wars sequels are almost certainly being penned by Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt, while 1952 has always been the brainchild of Damon Lindelof (Prometheus) and writing partner Jeff Jensen. Perhaps putting a final nail in that coffin, a recent report indicates that George Clooney has begun negotiations to star in a distinct 1952 with a very non-Star Wars synopsis.

In a quick casting report released today, Variety confirmed that Monuments Men star George Clooney is in talks with Disney to star in 1952. This is the first casting rumor to be attached to 1952. Nothing is known about either Disney or Clooney’s disposition to the proposed casting at this time.

In fact, very little is known about 1952 except for its primary creative team and vague whispers of plot elements. The film is rumored to be a science fiction film in the vein of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in which a man makes contact with an alien race. Disney has placed a good deal of weight behind the production, intending the film to be a tentpole in the coming years.

Brad Bird is an unqualified phenom at the moment, with a string of critical and commercial hits throughout the last decade. He jumped successfully from animation to live-action with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and has ridden that success to what appears to be near-carte blanche on 1952. If he does indeed land George Clooney as his headliner, it would be a massive boost for what is at the moment a completely unknown quantity.

The appeal of Brad Bird at the helm of Star Wars is undeniable – which is why the implication that he won’t be onboard for Episode VII is somewhat disheartening. That said, Brad Bird at the helm of any movie is exciting. If Disney has enough confidence in 1952 that it is courting someone as high-profile as George Clooney, the script and overall concept must be strong indeed. Though far too early to tell, it will probably be a good idea to watch for any news of 1952 as it trickles out – if only to see just what new brand of strangeness Bird is concocting.

1952 is looking to begin production in 2013. Currently, it has no release date.

Source: Variety