We're been waiting to see what film Steven Spielberg directs next, to follow his seventh Oscar nomination for directing (two resulted in wins) for the historical drama Lincoln. The filmmaker legend was originally prepared to jump right into making the sci-fi apocalyptic blockbuster Robopocalypse, but budgetary and creative concerns resulted in the project being indefinitely delayed; since then, Spielberg has circled an eclectic collection of scripts, including the true-story drama American Sniper (which Clint Eastwood is now directing instead) and, most recently, a prospective remake of the classic musical West Side Story.
Robopocalypse is a cinematic adaptation of the book written by Daniel H. Wilson; a World War Z-style oral history novel, Wilson's source material details the human resistance against a robotic uprising, led by a renegade sentient A.I. being. Wilson's source novel was adapted to script form by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), though it's possible that Goddard wasn't responsible for the latest rewrite - given that he's been busy in recent months, with prepping Marvel Studios' Netflix TV series Daredevil and working on the script for Sony's Amazing Spider-Man spinoff Sinister Six (which he will also direct).
Variety's insiders are reporting different things, with regard to the status quo for Robopocalypse; some claim Spielberg hasn't settled on his next directing project yet, while others say that the sci-fi feature is very much a frontrunner. Meanwhile, early development has begun on another prospective Spielberg helming vehicle, titled The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara - one being written by Tony Kushner (who also penned Munich and Lincoln for Spielberg), and described as follows:
The script is based on David Kertzer’s nonfiction book about the true-life story of an Italian Jew who became the center of an international controversy in 1858 when he was removed from his parents at the age of 7 by authorities of the Papal States and raised as a Catholic. He went on to become a priest in the Augustinian order.
Edgardo Mortara sounds like the kind of historical material that lies comfortably within Spielberg's wheelhouse, complete with themes and ideas similar to those which his previous cinematic trips back in time have touched upon (see: Schindler's List, Amistad, etc.) - though, also just different enough to be worth his while. However, Kusher's only begun to work on the Edgardo Mortara screenplay, so it won't be the film that Spielberg shoots next. Similarly, the script for Montezuma - another historical drama that Spielberg has his eye on - is reportedly not far enough along for pre-production to get properly underway yet.
Robopocalypse cover well-traveled genre territory - this week's Transcendence is the latest Hollywood tale of A.I. gone wrong - but Spielberg has acknowledged this before, and the indication is that the film has taken extra time during script development to ensure that the final product will be something more innovative - and thus, not quite so derivative. Plus, there's a lot of promise in Spielberg taking on what sounds like a brainier version of the I, Robot film-meets War of the Worlds-style disaster spectacle, with a cast that could still be led by Chris Hemsworth and Anne Hathaway.
One feasible scenario is that Spielberg will shoot Robopocalypse, then jump right into production on one of the aforementioned historical dramas (Montezuma seems more likely than Edgardo Mortara), even while effects work and editing is still ongoing for his robo-flick. Thus, we get two Spielberg features - a smart popcorn tentpole and prestige drama - released in close proximity to one another, like he's now done multiple times in the past (see: Jurassic Park and Schindler's List in 1993, The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse in 2011, and so forth).
We'll keep you posted on development for Robopocalypse, as well as all other developing Spielberg projects.