Robert Zemeckis once gave us the Oscar-winning Forrest Gump and the Back to the Future trilogy, but over the last few years he's been dabbling with motion-capture visual experiences like The Polar Express, Beowulf and most recently A Christmas Carol. He's got a remake of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine on the way, but it's being reported that the family-friendly director is going to be helming a watery fantasy film for Disney.
Variety reports the news that Disney and Zemeckis' ImageMovers have struck a deal to partner up with The Gotham Group to adapt Kat Falls' upcoming young adult fantasy novel, Dark Life, which Zemeckis is attached to direct. There's no word on who will write the screenplay, although I wouldn't be surprised if Falls took a shot at it herself, as she's a graduate screenwriting program professor.
From Variety, here's the synopsis of her novel:
The book is set in a near-future world in which rising ocean levels and natural catastrophes have led some people to homestead on the ocean floor, and kids to develop supernatural powers. The story centers on an underwater teenage boy and a surface girl who join forces to uncover a government conspiracy.
Ah, the places fantasy novels will go these days, eh?...
Variety notes that the project fits well with Disney's mandate of creating family-friendly properties that can be spread across the company's multiple platforms (read: not just movies but toys, video games etc.) and lead to inevitable sequels. It goes without saying that Disney is eyeing Dark Life to spawn a major franchise.
The rights to the property were acquired by The Gotham Group but the books have yet to be published. The original plan was for there to be just two books, but it could expand to far more than that. Before the movie is even made, there will be a major marketing push for the books.
Zemeckis is not only set to direct Dark Life, but will also produce the pic along with Steven Starkey and Jack Rapke, through their ImageMovers company. Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Lee Stollman will also produce through Gotham.
It's unclear at this point whether or not the film will be produced using Zemeckis' now trademark performance-capture process. It doesn't look likely, as in a move to cut down costs, Disney announced last month that it will shut down ImageMovers Digital by the end of the year, once the film Mars Needs Moms finishes shooting. So unless Dark Life can start shooting and get done by the end of this year (a movie done in mo-cap surely takes a long time to shoot) then it probably won't be done in Zemeckis' favored style.
I've always liked Zemeckis as a director, even if I think he should move past all that motion-capture stuff. His last three movies have been done in that style and personally I want him to go back to regular filming methods. Maybe that's just because mo-cap doesn't really do it for me (the deadness of the eyes still is a bit of a problem).
However, I always look forward to what the Zemeckis does next and Dark Life is no exception. I'm certainly interested in seeing how that ambitious fantasy plot is brought to life on-screen.
Do you like the sound of Dark Life? Should Zemeckis carry on with his favored motion-capture style or revert back to traditional (do we have to call it "old school" now?) filmmaking?
There's no word on when we might see Dark Life in theaters or when it might start filming. Stay tuned.