With Mars Needs Moms having bombed at the box office and his Yellow Submarine remake nixed, Robert Zemeckis has pretty much been forced to step away from making motion-capture flicks for the time being. He's instead getting involved with an adaptation of How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, which will combine live-action and animated footage.
Zemeckis is producing the R-Rated $20-30 million-budgeted project for Sony Animation, which will unleash (that's a fitting verb) its first live-action/CGI hybrid - The Smurfs - on moviegoers this summer.
Variety broke the story about Zemeckis producing the adaptation of Chuck Sambuchino's novel, which is officially described as follows:
There’s a new threat in town—and it’s only twelve inches tall. 'How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack' is the only comprehensive survival guide that will help you prevent, prepare for, and ward off an imminent home invasion by the common garden gnome. Once thought of as harmless yard decorations, evidence is mounting that these smiling lawn statues are poised and ready to wreck havoc. The danger is real. And it’s here.
Sambuchino's book is (naturally) very tongue-in-cheek and I imagine its cinematic adaptation will play out along the lines of Gremlins - albeit, with ceramic gnomes, not tiny monsters wreaking havoc on modern-day suburbanites. Even the kid-friendly pic Gnomeo and Juliet suggested that garden gnomes spend their free time racing lawnmowers and warring with one another, so the idea that they could turn against their human owners isn't that much of a stretch. ;-)
Zemeckis hasn't directed a live-action movie since Cast Away back in 2000, and it would be nice to see him get back to making films that actually feature human actors in the flesh, not just their digitally-rendered counterparts. He's not currently slated to helm How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, and may end up passing on the directorial reigns to another filmmaker - like he did with Mars Needs Moms.
It's not all that clear what project Zemeckis will be directing next. Who Framed Roger Rabbit 2 is being actively developed once again, but there's no definite timeline set for that sequel. Disney's decision to close down Zemeckis' ImageMovers studio could also have repercussions for the Roger Rabbit followup, since it was expected to use the same mo-cap tech that Zemeckis has been developing over the past decade.
How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack could certainly benefit from having an effects aficionado like Zemeckis at the helm - and not just because Sony Animation is very hit-or-miss when it comes to its films. Would you like to see him direct the adaptation?
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