After a month of baby duty, it’s back to work. This seems the perfect time to take stock of all the projects I have out there, and figure out exactly what their status is.
★ ACTIVE ★
Prince of Persia
Jordan Mechner, who created the videogame, wrote the movie adaptation, which he and I are executive producing with Jerry Bruckheimer Films at Disney. The script is great. Next step is to get a director. That discussion is just beginning.
I get more comments and suggestions about this project than any other. So let me clarify what I know, and what I don’t know. First, the movie is much more like The Sands of Time than Warrior Within. Second, we have no idea who will star in it, nor where we will shoot it. Third, that’s all I know. Or at least, all I can say.
This is the Fox TV show that Jordan and I set up last year about two guys who work as private military contractors. For various reasons, we didn’t end up shooting the pilot during the usual production schedule. Instead, Jordan and I ended up writing an almost entirely new pilot script which we (and Fox) are a lot happier with. Now there’s talk about shooting the pilot outside of the normal schedule, which would be fine with us. Or it could go away completely. That’s show business.
I did a few weeks’ of work on this thriller at Paramount, an American remake of the Pang brothers movie. I’m happy with the work I did, but it’s not my movie in any creative-ownership sense.
Father Knows Less
I rewrote Father Knows Less, set to star Dustin Hoffman as a second-time dad, for New Line. Director Shawn Levy left the project, so I suspect they’re looking for a replacement. (Actually, I know they are, because I’ve talked to two friends who were sent it.)
Untitled Broadway Musical
I’m writing the book for a Broadway musical currently in very, very early stages of development. It’s been interesting adapting to the challenges of storytelling on the stage. No, I can’t say what the project is, or whether it will ever happen. Based on the very busy schedules of everyone involved, it could take years.
How to Eat Fried Worms
This project, an adaptation of Thomas Rockwell’s book, was the very first script I was ever hired to write, way back in 1995. Originally, the project was set up at Imagine, then it migrated to Nickelodeon. I assumed the project was dead and gone, when suddenly I read that it was filming in Austin.
Bob Dolman, who was brought in to rewrite the script after me, is directing. Producer Mark Johnson called to tell me filming was going well. I haven’t read the shooting script — or any script at all — so I don’t know how much resemblance it bears to the movie I wrote so many years ago.
★ FINISHED ★
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The movie is now out in almost every market, and looks to be closing in on $200 million domestic box office. I’ve seen the special features for the DVD, which are quite cool, although I don’t know the exact release date for the disc. But something tells me it would be a great stocking stuffer. Hint.
When I did Q&A’s for the film, many people asked if we were going to make a sequel, such as Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. As far as I know, no. That was never in the plans. Tim and I have never talked about it.
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
The film is now finished, and ready for its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. I’m really happy with how the film turned out. I didn’t originate the project — I came on board after they had started filming — but I enjoyed working with the team to figure out how to get it in its best shape. In addition to shared screenwriting credit (along with Caroline Thompson and Pamela Pettler), I share lyric credit on several of the songs.
I keep getting questions about whether there will be a third one. I doubt it. I love the characters, and I love the people involved, but we’re all off doing other things now. I don’t foresee getting back together to make another one.
★ LIMBO ★
My modern-day, pan-African adaptation of Tarzan is in a (permanent?) holding pattern at Warner Bros. Last year, we started to go out to directors, but now it’s not clear what the next step is. There’s disagreement about many things, including my basic take on the entire movie.
It’s frustrating, because Tarzan is one of the best things I’ve ever written. It’s certainly one of the most difficult. You have a hero who grows from an infant to a man, and doesn’t learn how to speak until page 40. A lot of it plays like a silent movie, yet it has big Joseph Campbell-y hero themes that I generally avoid, but which work great for a film like this.
I really wanted this to be a trilogy. Now, I’d settle for a mono-gy.
Untitled Zombie Western
Largely due to readers’ terrific suggestions for a new title, I’m seriously considering dusting off this long-buried spec. Not that I think anybody’s itching to make a zombie movie after the disappointing returns for Land of the Dead. But I’ll at least add it to the Library section once I get it cleaned up.
There’s been some discussion about turning this unsold spec — the most violent thing I’ve ever written — into a graphic novel or a videogame. Both ideas make sense; the story is sort of a cross between Grand Theft Auto and The Terminator. But there are other projects that require my immediate attention, so I may just let this back-burner for a while.
★ QUESTION MARKS ★
This adaptation((May 3, 2011 Update: IMDb listing now inactive)) of American McGee‘s videogame was looking pretty dead, when it suddenly sprang back to life with the announcement that Marcus Nispel would be directing, with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the title role. The Hollywood Reporter article lists Erich and Jon Hoeber as the screenwriters.
Back in 2000, the project was set up at Dimension, with Wes Craven attached to direct. I wrote a long treatment — not a full script, as the Hollywood Reporter article states — and left the project under less-than-felicitous circumstances. But I’ve kept up with American McGee, who’s a friggin’ rock star.
I have no idea whether the movie will incorporate any of the material from my treatment, or if the current incarnation even has the applicable rights. If you’re interested in tracking the progress on the project, American’s site is your best bet.
Oh, sweet Barbarella. This adaptation of the French comic book series about a sexually-liberated space explorer was set to star Drew Barrymore, but a tangle of rights issues got in the way. It was tremendous fun to write. Of all my unproduced projects, it’s probably my favorite.
There were rumors recently that Lindsay Lohan was going to play the part. I think that was just fanboy fantasy. Although, honestly, last-year’s Lindsay (the nice girl who was in Mean Girls) would have been great.
My agent got a call a few months ago from a producer who claimed to have the rights to Barbarella. I doubt he had all the right he thought he had, and he certainly didn’t have the right to my script, which is co-owned by Fox and Warner Bros. So I don’t see this getting made any time soon. (Although I would have said the same about How to Eat Fried Worms.)
★ PRESUMABLY DEAD ★
Thief of Always
An adaption of Clive Barker’s novel. The first project I was ever fired off of.
Untitled John August Thriller
This Sony project was intended to be a big summer event movie, but a competing project suddenly roared to life. I never ended up writing the script. In many ways, that’s good, because I don’t think our movie would have gotten made anyway.
This Paramount thriller is about two prep school girls who have to save Manhattan from the Apocalypse. Sort of a cross between Clueless and Aliens, which is why it will never get made.
A big-budget feature adaptation of the classic TV show. My version was a lot like Lost, except that Lost is a lot better than my movie would have been.
Based on the book by David Small, a family comedy about a guy whose suit develops a life of its own. The studio gave up on it, but I think it could have worked.
An HBO dramedy about a terrible hospital. Not haunted, not evil, just really crappy. It was created by Julie Siege; I was executive-producing. Ultimately, we never made it out of development, but Julie landed a spot on Invasion.