After the considerable commercial success of the recent Sherlock Holmes films, director Guy Ritchie has solidified his transformation from Indie darling to mainstream powerhouse.
He seems poised to continue on that trajectory after the recent announcement that Warner Bros. has recruited him to direct an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.
According to Deadline, Ritchie will also produce the film with Lionel Wigram and Kevin McCormick, while Alex Harakis is handling screenplay duties.
Based on the box office take of Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes series, audiences (if not critics) obviously responded well to the filmmaker's marriage of lush period visuals with frenetic, highly modern action sequences (Robert Downey Jr.'s signature charm probably didn't hurt, either). The same approach could conceivably lend itself to the classic tale of adventure and high seas piracy, which is already action-packed in its own right.
Ritchie handled the seedy underbelly of Sherlock Holmes' Victorian London quite convincingly, no doubt channeling his earlier forays into London crime with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Treasure Island is a bit further outside of Ritchie's comfort zone, but still contains plenty of opportunity for quirkiness and dark humor. There may even be parts for old Ritchie regulars like Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones, both of whom seem quite well-suited to playing pirates.
Of course, much depends on the tone and approach Ritchie and writers are taking with what is ultimately an adaptation of a children's novel. It's unclear if the film will be to its source material and cater to the PG crowd, or go for a darker, grittier interpretation. The massive success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is likely not lost on Warner Bros., so it's reasonable to assume that they'll shoot for something in the PG-13 range, appealing to teens and twenty-somethings in particular (much like Sherlock Holmes did).
Several other projects in various stages of development are also vying for Ritchie's attention. He reportedly signed on to helm another Warner Bros. project, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., after Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven, Haywire) bowed out. Ritchie also has a sequel to his 2008 crime drama RockNRolla waiting in the wings, though it has apparently been placed on the back burner for now. And, of course, there's Sherlock Holmes 3 to consider.
Treasure Island has been in development limbo for some time, with other big names coming and going, including Oscar-nominated director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93). Given Greengrass' penchant for handheld docu-drama-style filmmaking, it's unclear if he would've been the most optimal choice to direct a fanciful pirate epic.
Are you guys excited to see what Guy Ritchie can do with the likes of pirates and treasure and high seas adventure? Let us know in the comments.
We'll bring you more Treasure Island news as it develops.