Wally Pfister appears to have picked up a trick or two from Christopher Nolan, and not just on the directing side of things. Nolan’s Oscar-winning cinematographer on his Dark Knight trilogy, The Prestige, and Inception is moving over to the helmer’s chair on a new project – one which we now know to be titled Transcendence – but other than that, Pfister remains fastidious about not letting any other significant details slip about the film too soon in advance (an approach Nolan very much favors).

Johnny Depp is reported to have entered negotiations to headline Transcendence, which has Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas onboard as executive producers. Shooting is slated to begin next year, with funding provided by Alcon Entertainment (which is also backing Ridley Scott’s gestating Blade Runner sequel).

Pfister (in his statement on the announcement) gave no hints about the role Depp is up for, other than to say “He is a creative and intelligent artist whom I feel will bring great depth to the character and the overall narrative.”  During a recent Q&A at the Ringling College of Art and Design, Pfister referred to Transcendence as “a present-day science fiction film, a fairly big concept. It’s bigger budget — not as big as ‘Batman,’ but not independent.”

He also made some disparaging comments about superhero movies at that talk, specifically in reference to Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography on The Avengers. That story broke last week, hot on the heels of more polite (but still not-exactly-flattering) comments about Marvel movies from Hugo Weaving and Paul Bettany that caused something of a stir around the blogosphere (to say the least).

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in ‘The Lone Ranger’

Depp’s next appearance on the big screen will be in Disney’s Lone Ranger, but his schedule thereafter is somewhat open – as his Thin Man remake has been put on hold, those rumors about Depp starring in Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel turned out to be hot air, and Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is chugging along through development slower than expected. Nonetheless, it is encouraging to learn he will next be working alongside Pfister on Transcendence.

The script for Transcendence was written by newcomer Jack Paglen, based on a treatment by former production assistant Annie Marter (Girl, Interrupted, The Door in the Floor). We will let you know when more information has been released about the project in general, be it plot details and/or additional casting.

Source: Alcon Entertainment, Herald Tribune [via The Huffington Post]