Word got out a few weeks ago that Warner Bros. was ready to revisit one of the longest-running and most popular literature-turned-film franchises in Hollywood - by making a new Tarzan movie. The studio had charged screenwriter Adam Cozad (the upcoming Jack Ryan reboot) and filmmaker Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) with the task of writing dual Tarzan scripts for future use.
It seems that Brewer managed to make an impression on studio heads with his revamping (or - dare it be said - rebooting) of the ape man series; he's now reportedly a lock to write and direct the latest Tarzan flick.
Warner Bros. has been struggling for a while to get the ball rolling on another Tarzan motion picture. According to Variety, back in 2003, screenwriter John August (Charlie's Angels, Big Fish) was hired to pen a new cinematic incarnation of author Edgar Rice Burrough's famous jungle warrior - but those plans eventually fell by the wayside. Similarly, Guillermo del Toro began negotiations to take charge of the project in 2006, but a deal was not actually worked out.
The most recent attempt to relaunch the live-action Tarzan franchise was in 2008, when writer/director Stephen Sommers (the Mummy movies, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) was in talks to oversee the production. Once again, a deal failed to materialize - though, in this case, it might've been for the best.
Deadline describes Tarzan as "a passion project" for Brewer, who reportedly has plans for the title character's story to be told over the course of three different films. Right now, however, there's apparently still the possibility that Warner Bros. could end up ultimately moving forward with Cozad's Tarzan script - rather than Brewer's.
Disney's kid-friendly animated take on Tarzan was the last theatrical feature to rework the tale of the famous man raised by apes in the wild jungle - and (obviously) it was a significant departure in tone from Burrough's original novel, which painted both its protagonist and his world in a (relatively) more brutal and savage light. Since Brewer is the man responsible for the edgy drama Hustle & Flow - not to mention, the blaxploitation throwback flick, Black Snake Moan - chances are good he has plans for a more adult and (again, dare it be said) gritty take on the vine-swinging wild man.
As was mentioned in a previous article, a new Tarzan movie seems all but destined to become a 3D project; the vast jungle setting of the story arguably lends itself naturally to the more immersive experience offered by the technology. Even though the drop-off in 3D ticket sales for recent pics like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Kung Fu Panda 2 has ignited speculation that Hollywood studios are going to back off on the push to release just about every tentpole pic in the third dimension, Tarzan still seems like a project that will ultimately go that route.
While Brewer has not yet directed a true financial hit, he does have the new version of Footloose due out this fall. If that 80s movie remake does well at the box office, it should only help the filmmaker to convince studio heads that making plans for a Tarzan trilogy is the way to go. Whether or not those plans will eventually fall through is another matter entirely.
As always, we'll keep you posted on the status of the new Tarzan picture.
Source: Deadline, Variety