Though Steven Soderbergh has been busy producing cable TV series like The Knick and The Girlfriend Experience, and last year executive produced the movie Magic Mike XXL, he hasn't sat in a film director's chair since his "retirement" in 2013. The Oscar winner (for 2000's Traffic) may be getting back in the driver's seat for Logan Lucky, an upcoming heist film starring Magic Mike lead Channing Tatum.
Initial reports on the film were sketchy, and though sources reported that Soderbergh was "enthralled with the script," the famed filmmaker wouldn't confirm his involvement in the project. Matt Damon and Michael Shannon had each been rumored to be in the film with Tatum, but now new details on the story and cast have been released from an unlikely source.
A press release from NASCAR reveals that Soderbergh is collaborating with the stock car racing association on Logan Lucky. The film will feature the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and pre-production filming begins at this Memorial Day weekend's Coca-Cola 600 race. Zane Stoddard, NASCAR vice president of entertainment marketing and content development, describes the movie as a "big-hearted, fun story" that features the racing venue in much the same way the Bellagio took center stage in Soderbergh's Ocean's 11.
NASCAR also confirms Tatum's involvement, along with the news that James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, will be joining the cast. The interesting list of costars includes Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up, Grey's Anatomy), Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Girlfriend Experience), Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Girls) and Seth MacFarlane (Ted 2, Family Guy). Stoddard joins frequent Soderbergh collaborators Mark Johnson, Gregory Jacobs, and Reid Carolin on producing duties.
While there are no further details on exactly what this heist will involve, the setting can provide an interesting spin on the usual big screen capers. The 600 mile race at Charlotte begins in sunny conditions and ends under the lights, providing a generous but finite amount of time to complete a theft. While the cars themselves have value, there are also millions of dollars in prize money at stake.
The reported cast features actors with a mix of talents in action, drama, and comedy, which reinforces the idea that this will be a NASCAR version of Ocean's 11. Considering Soderbergh's talents at creating interesting, atmospheric worlds for his characters to inhabit, though, this likely won't be a mere retread of any previous projects. A "fun" caper at an exciting venue, with this cast, so far sounds like a good bet for an entertaining film. They may need to work on a new title, however. Once labeled as Hillbilly Heist, the Logan Lucky name change will require a lot of careful promotion to make it meaningful or memorable to a potential audience.
Logan Lucky is tentatively slated for release in Fall 2017.