We're only a few months away from the latest whimsical supernatural flick to feature Johnny Depp (the Dark Shadows movie) and there's already an important update on the quirky A-lister's next cinematic foray with creatures that prefer the cover of darkness: The Night Stalker, a reboot of the franchise concerning the antics of tabloid reporter Carl Kolchak.
Depp is co-producing the Night Stalker project (via his Infinitum Nihil banner) with Walt Disney Pictures. The Mouse House has gone ahead and attached a noteworthy director to the project, even though a screenwriter has yet to be hired on. It's a situation identical to that of the Thin Man remake, where Warner Bros. brought Rob Marshall and Depp onboard to direct and star in the flick without a complete early script draft on hand.
Edgar Wright is the man Disney has selected for the Night Stalker job. It makes sense that the Mouse House would recruit the writer/director of such cult hits as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, given that Wright is already co-writing an Ant-Man movie for the Disney-owned Marvel Studios. Whether or not he's still on course to direct that comic book film before calling the shots on the new Depp vehicle, is not clear right now.
Deadline (in its scoop) also mentions that The Night Stalker remains "a potential star vehicle" for Depp, whereas the actor is officially signed on to headline The Thin Man. Depp's about to commence work on Disney's Lone Ranger adaptation - and is virtually guaranteed to add Pirates of the Caribbean 5 to his acting plate in the future - so there's little reason to doubt that he will also end up playing the new version of Carl Kolchak.
For those not familiar with The Night Stalker, the franchise began with a 1972 TV movie about the peculiar Mr. Kolchak and his dangerous encounter with a vampire in the city of Las Vegas. Eventually the character landed his own TV series called Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which ran from 1974-75; both the TV show and original film starred Darren McGavin (of A Christmas Story fame) as the titular journalist who tended to encounter a variety of spooky monsters while on the job.
Going off those basic ingredients (supernatural creatures and an oddball protagonist) you can already see why Disney would recruit Depp for the part of Mr. Kolchak. Nobody plays outsiders quite like Johnny, though many people are already starting to tire of seeing the actor essentially repeat his eccentric mannerisms over and over again - and that's before many of the aforementioned Deep projects have even started production.
On the other hand, Wright is a very talented filmmaker and his off-beat storytelling style seems like both a nice fit for Depp's screen persona and the Night Stalker series in general. Perhaps Depp will manage to find a clever new spin on his overused "quirky" acting style by collaborating on this flick with someone like Wright, whose energetic style and wit have (with good reason) earned him a solid cult following and reputation as someone who can mix wild violence and comedy with hilarious results.
We will continue to keep you up-to-date on the status of The Night Stalker as the story develops.