Now that Robert Zemeckis has
been forced decided to re-broaden his horizons and try his hand at directing films that do NOT utilize motion-capture technology, the Oscar-winning filmmaker responsible for such classics as Back to the Future is prepped to return to making live-action fare – and he may have found a project entitled Flight that’ll allow him to do just that.
The script for Flight was penned by John Gatins – who was recently commissioned to write a sequel to this fall’s Real Steel, which was also his handiwork – and has Denzel Washington “loosely attached” to star.
As Deadline points out, Flight recalls Zemeckis’ last live-action pic – Cast Away, back in 2000 (yep, it’s been a while) – as it is primarily a character-study that also features a thrilling set piece in the form of a malfunctioning airplane. Washington would star in the film as Whip Whitaker, the pilot who manages to prevent said commercial plane from outright crashing and is dubbed a hero for his efforts. The matter becomes complicated, however, when it is revealed that Whitaker was flying under the influence at the time.
Gatins originally had plans to helm Flight, but now that Zemeckis is circling the project, Paramount is more inclined to go with the latter as director. The project could possibly go into production this summer if Zemeckis signs on, and looks to be an overall modestly-budgeted affair. That’d certainly be a change of pace for the filmmaker, given the cost of his last two directorial efforts: the mo-cap flicks A Christmas Carol ($200 million) and Beowulf ($150 million).
Zemeckis has always been a technically-proficient filmmaker and he has amassed quite the eclectic (not to mention, prestigious) collection of works over the course of his career, including the Back to the Future series, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, and several others. Even his mo-cap pics have been fairly different in tone from one another – though I’ve personally always found those films to be less than endearing, since the animated human characters always look distractingly “fake” and at times kind of creepy in appearance (and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way).
I mention all that to say: a movie like Flight could turn out quite well in Zemeckis’ hands. Combine his talents with a great actor like Washington serving as the emotional core of the film, and Flight could easily be more moving and heartfelt than any movie Zemeckis has made over the past decade. Or, rather, at least since that one where Tom Hanks bursts into tears after his beloved volleyball floats away. ;-)
News got out recently that Zemeckis is planning to produce a new live-action/animation movie as well, the How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack adaptation. Assuming the deal with Flight doesn’t work out, it’s still possible that Zemeckis could direct a flick like that instead. As always, we’ll keep you posted.