The Marvel brand has been dominating the first half of 2014, with the record-breaking success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier directly informing (and improving) the final episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season. Then, Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past bowed to big numbers and the promise of major world-building in the Spider-Man and X-Men movie universes.
As Marvel Studios gears up for the release of director James Gunn's ambitious Guardians of the Galaxy in August, the finely-oiled that is their product assembly line has hit something of a snag - with the surprising news of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World director Edgar Wright's departure from his long-in-development Ant-Man film.
While the going rumor has Wright exiting Ant-Man over rewrites to he and Joe Cornish's script, we have no official word from the director himself aside from a hastily-deleted photo. While the initial reactions across the blogosphere have varied - with some calling for Disney to hire him for a Star Wars film now that he's off Ant-Man - Wright's next project might actually be one he started developing years ago.
However, a report from Deadline seems confident that Wright will, instead, directly move on to direct the movie reboot of cult-favorite 70s TV show The Night Stalker, which still appears to have Johnny Depp attached to star.
Following two TV movies (1972's The Night Stalker and 1973's The Night Strangler), Kolchak: The Night Stalker aired on ABC for a single season in 1974 - 1975. Starring the late character actor Darren McGavin (who will be forever remembered as the Dad from A Christmas Story), the show followed newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak as he investigated mysterious crimes which often involved supernatural elements like vampires, zombies, werewolves, and even a delightfully-70s version of a murderous artificial intelligence.
We first learned that Edgar Wright was developing a film version a few years ago - and while Depp is still thought to be involved, the last update had Wright himself stating that while he's still attached to direct, he conceded that "I think that’s still a ways off, it’s not even been written yet but yeah, it’s happening.” According to Deadline, though, the project now has a solid script by High Fidelity screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis, and we know Edgar Wright has a sudden opening in his schedule.
So what of Johnny Depp's availability? The star is coming off a trio of box office under-performers (and/or flops) - Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger and Transcendence - but the studios have yet to completely lose faith in him. He's currently filming the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, has Alice in Wonderland 2 on deck, and may begin filming Pirates of the Caribbean 5 sometime later this year (in addition to appearing in Disney's fairytale musical Into the Woods this December).
There's little doubt that The Night Stalker is firmly in both Wright and Depp's wheelhouse, but right now it's really anyone's guess if this is really Wright's next project. The show is credited with helping to inspire The X-Files, which in turn is a precursor to some of television's more fantastical offerings, such as Fringe, Haven, and Supernatural. Wright could have a ready-made cultural linchpin if he steps into The Night Stalker next, but we should wait for official details before jumping to conclusions.
The Night Stalker is currently in development.