A couple of weeks ago, Disney dropped the rights to TRON: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion, an adaptation of his not-yet-released post-apocalyptic sci-fi comic book. The official explanation for that move is that the Mouse House felt that the PG-13 Rated project didn't really fit with its generally family-friendly slate.
Now Universal is very close to signing a deal to finance and distribute Oblivion, while Tom Cruise is reportedly in talks to headline the feature - as opposed to just being on the of A-lister wish list (a la the Robocop remake).
Deadline says that Universal is looking to fill the hole left by Guillermo del Toro's currently defunct At the Mountains of Madness adaptation - which Cruise almost starred in - with another big-budget tentpole pic. Oblivion is being devised as a cheaper undertaking ($100 million vs. Mountain's $150 milion cost) and comes with the benefit of having box-office friendly PG-13 Rated subject matter - which del Toro's H.P. Lovecraft pic lacked.
Here is the official synopsis for the Oblivion graphic novel:
In a future where the Earth’s surface has been irradiated beyond recognition, the remnants of humanity live above the clouds, safe from the brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when surface drone repairman Jak discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off an unstoppable chain of events that will force him to question everything he knows.
I know a lot of moviegoers have more than had their fill of Cruise, but he is admittedly quite adept at playing the action hero onscreen. While last summer's Knight and Day was viewed as a disappointment in comparison to Cruise's previous summer popcorn flicks, it still managed to gross $261 million worldwide on a $117 million budget. So clearly there are a lot of people still up for watching Cruise get his action game on, be it in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol or a flick like Oblivion.
Kosinski proved himself to be a visually astute filmmaker with the TRON sequel, and he still appears to be actively involved with the development of TRON 3. Universal is said to be considering an October 2011 start date for production on Oblivion, which could affect Kosinski's availability to helm the TRON: Legacy followup if Disney decides to get the threequel going before the end of 2011 as well. Expect to hear more about these issues in the near future.
As for Oblivion: the story looks to have its share of familiar sci-fi tropes, but it could still make for an intriguing and exciting adventure. The original script for the cinematic adaptation was penned by William Monahan (The Departed), but that draft is currently being reworked - so the final product could go either way, in terms of quality.
As always, we'll keep you posted on the status of Oblivion.