Close to a year ago, Warner Bros. put its plan to make a new live-action Tarzan movie on hold, over concerns about the (currently-undisclosed) price tag. By that point, director David Yates – who had previously helmed the critically well-received (and profitable) fifth through eighth Harry Potter movies for the studio – had already selected True Blood hunk Alexander Skarsgård to play the eponymous ape-man, while Samuel L. Jackson was eyed to play his partner in the jungle adventure.
At that time, WB was reported to have postponed the start of production on Tarzan in the hope of re-starting development no later than early 2014, so that it could work out the budgetary concerns in the meantime. Indeed, just a couple months after reports emerged that Jackson was back in talks for the project, we now have an official press release from the studio that confirms that Yates’ film – which is going to be a (big shock) 3D “action-adventure” – is restarting pre-production, ahead of shooting getting underway for a 2016 theatrical release.
Skarsgård is confirmed to play the famous vine-swinging character imagined by author Edgar Rice Burroughs, described by the studio as “the man who was orphaned as a baby and raised in the jungle, later to return to the urban jungle of London.” Likewise, the previously-rumored Jackson and his Django Unchained co-star Christoph Waltz are now official Tarzan cast members, while Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) is set as Tarzan’s refined love interest Jane Porter – a role that in-demand names such as Jessica Chastain and Emma Stone were considered for, before the up and coming Robbie walked away with it.
Yates had developed a real knack for weaving engaging story/character elements within the framework of a 3D spectacle-heavy blockbuster, by the time his run on the Harry Potter franchise had concluded; between that and the solid casting selections, there’s a fair amount working in favor of the new Tarzan movie turning out well. The wild card factor here really is the script – more so because WB’s official press release doesn’t even list a single credited screenwriter, even though we’ve heard that Adam Cozad (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) may be responsible for the latest script draft. Hopefully, we’ll get more information on that in the near future.
Finally, WB currently has Tarzan scheduled to begin its theatrical release on July 1st, 2016, which is the same date that Sony has claimed for the Angry Birds movie and 20th Century Fox has set Independence Day 2 to open. Tarzan seems like an obvious choice for a summer release, but with May 2016 already essentially filled up (see: Batman vs. Superman, X-Men: Apocalypse, etc.) and June 2016 already quite crowded (see: The Amazing Spider-Man 3, How to Train Your Dragon 3, etc.), Yates’ film is unlikely to be bumped forward during that season.
Of course, that’s more than two years away right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see what changes (or doesn’t change) in the meantime.
Tarzan is scheduled to open in 2D and 3D theaters on July 1st, 2016.