Jaume Collet-Serra has now signed on for his first proper big-budget studio project. The Spanish director is a filmmaker that has seemed poised to move up to A-list status for most of his career. Collet-Serra got his start in Hollywood as many directors do, helming relatively low-budget horror movies. While his debut feature - a remake of House of Wax - drew mixed reviews from horror fans, 2009's Orphan proved to be a big sleeper hit with the genre community, nearly quadrupling its reported $20 million budget at the worldwide box office.
Collet-Serra then seemed to find a kindred spirit in actor Liam Neeson, directing three straight action flicks starring the multi-time Oscar and Golden Globe nominee. While none of them were critical darlings, 2011's Unknown and 2014's Non-Stop both broke the bank when it comes to profit, raking in 9-figure returns on 8-figure budgets. Last year's shark flick The Shallows was another big success for the filmmaker, earning over $100 million worldwide on a budget of only $17 million. If there's one thing, Collet-Serra has proven to Hollywood, it's that his movies make money.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Collet-Serra was the frontrunner to direct the DCEU sequel Suicide Squad 2, after David Ayer had opted not to return. However, it was never confirmed that he was taking the job, and now it's clear why. Deadline reports that Collet-Serra has officially signed on to direct Jungle Cruise, Disney's action-adventure movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Like the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion films before it, Jungle Cruise is based on the classic Disney theme park attraction. Exactly what Jungle Cruise will be about remains to be seen since, as is the cast with most blockbusters nowadays, plot details are being kept close to the vest for the time being. This will of course not be Johnson's first starring trip to the jungle, as he's set to star in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a sorta-sequel to the 1996 Robin Williams movie that heads to theaters this December.
Jungle Cruise will be Collet-Serra's first crack at directing a big-budget blockbuster, starring no less than one of the biggest stars in the world. One assumes he will be feeling some pressure, but his prior successes indicate that he will likely rise to the challenge. This is the kind of directing gig that can really "make" somebody with Hollywood, and only time will tell which way the chips fall.
Jungle Cruise starts filming in 2018, but doesn't have an official release date yet.