Relativity Media is planning to get principal photography going on its globe-trotting thriller, Hunter Killer, by Winter 2011. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, King Arthur) is a lock to helm the film - which, earlier this year, was expected to become the latest CIA action flick directed by Phillip Noyce (he eventually passed on the project, obviously).
The latest report says that Gerard Butler (who recently worked with Relativity on Machine Gun Preacher) is officially in talks to appear in Fuqua's thriller - and, if studio heads get their way, Sam Worthington could join him.
Variety has confirmed that Butler is negotiating for a lead role in Hunter Killer, but also makes it clear that Worthington is only "being eyed" at this point. The latter currently has James Cameron's Avatar 2 and 3 on his to-do list, but production on those expensive sequels won't be getting underway in the near future. So, as far as scheduling goes, Worthington should be available to co-headline Fuqua's film.
Hunter Killer is an adaptation of the not-yet-published novel "Firing Point" by George Wallace and Don Keith The plot revolves around "untested" submarine Captain Joe Glass (Butler's would-be role), who is forced to work with a special Navy SEAL team known as Dev Group - headed by Bill Beaman (the part Worthington is wanted for) - on an operation to rescue a Russian president overthrown during a military coup... one that could potentially ignite W.W. III, if it is not brought under control.
American playwright John Kolvenbach co-scripted Hunter Killer with Jamie Moss (Street Kings), and Arne Schmidt (Chain Reaction). The project reads as being a fairly conventional addition to the international thriller genre, on a par with a Jack Ryan adventure - in particular, The Hunt for Red October. Fuqua has proven himself to be a competent action movie helmer before, so his involvement seems to assure the final product will be decent (if nothing else).
Similarly, Butler is at his best when he's playing militaristic warrior types and has earned a fair amount of praise lately for doing just that - in Machine Gun Preacher and the upcomnig Coriolanus adaptation, to be exact. Likewise, Worthington has found success by occupying the niche of "silent, but strong" characters in films ranging from Terminator: Salvation to this year's The Debt. So he too seems poised to do well in Hunter Killer.
Currently, Hunter Killer is scheduled for a December 21st, 2012 U.S. theatrical release - a date no longer being claimed by Disney's Lone Ranger. However, Marc Forster's World War Z movie, Ang Lee's Life of Pi adaptation, and Judd Apatow's Knocked Up spinoff (rumored to be titled This Is Forty) are still set to hit theaters that day.
World War Z would be the only direct competition for Hunter Killer, as it stands. We'll just have to wait and see how those two globe-trotting action rides (one involving zombies, the other involving... Russians) affect one another.