Shyamalan is on a roll. His latest directorial effort, Signs,
scored a 17-day domestic gross of more than $150 million.
The four features since 1999 on which he received writing
credit - one numbers The Sixth Sense, the original
Stuart Little and Unbreakable among
them - will by the time you read this have grossed domestically
somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 million. In last months
In Focus interview, the highly sought writer-director-producer
confided his understandable fear of being copied prematurely,
so it should come as a surprise to no one that Shyamalan
officially has absolutely no new projects on the immediate
we wait for word of his next effort to leak, a few of Signs
other principal participants have signed on to new gigs.
Gibson emotes, warbles and dons his producers hat
for The Singing Detective. The drama,
set in 1950s Chicago, concerns a pulp novelist whose debilitating
chronic psoriasis causes him to hallucinate and blend the
details of his life with those of his long-out-of-print
detective series. Its based on the classic 1986 BBC
miniseries starring Michael Gambon. Keith Gordon (Waking
the Dead) directed from a screenplay by the series
late creator, Dennis Potter (Pennies From Heaven,
James and the Giant Peach). Robert Downey Jr.
(Wonder Boys) stars as the novelist, Robin Wright
Penn (White Oleander) as his ex-wife and nurse,
and Carla Gugino (Spy Kids 2) as (in flashbacks)
his mother. Gibson takes the role of the writers psychiatrist.
Jeremy Northam (Possession) and Katie Holmes
(Wonder Boys, Abandon) costar. Paramount
has a first-look deal with Gibsons Icon Entertainment,
but no distributor has been announced for the films
tentative 2003 release.
Gibson is wearing that producers hat, he may slip
into the directors chair to make Passion.
Gibson reportedly met with Catholic Church officials, scouted
Italian locations and courted Jim Caviezel (The Count
of Monte Cristo) to play Jesus in this story of Christs
last two days on earth.
Phoenix has seen his career light up following his smarmily
evil turn as the Roman emperor Commodus in Gladiator.
He may next lend some of that star power to Voltage.
The ensemble comedy is about a new engineering-school grad
(Phoenix) who finds his bosses goals impossible to
meet when, at the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War, he accepts
a job with a defense contractor. Its based on the
novel A Shortage of Engineers by Robert Grossbach
(Easy and Hard Ways Out). Robert Altman (Gosford
Park) was set to direct from a screenplay by Alan
Rudolph (Breakfast of Champions, Trixie)
in May, but the film has reportedly had difficulty garnering
its $21 million budget. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (State
and Main), Steve Buscemi (Spy Kids 2),
William H. Macy (Focus), Liv Tyler (the Lord
of the Rings series), Tony Shalhoub (Men in
Black II), Taye Diggs (The Way of the Gun),
Harry Belafonte (Kansas City), Bob Balaban (Gosford
Park) and Elliot Gould (Oceans Eleven)
were set to costar.
has a less respectable job title in Aurora Island.
The romantic drama, set in the early 1960s, concerns a mother,
her daughter, and the mothers best friend - all of
whom get involved with a mysterious drifter (Phoenix) on
a southern resort island. Martha Coolidge (Out to
Sea) directs from a screenplay by Robert Newton. Its
based on a short story by Marianne Gingher. Kim Basinger
(Bless the Child), Signs costar
Abigail Breslin, Mandy Moore (A Walk to Remember)
and Sloane Momsen (We Were Soldiers) costar.
Premiere Marketing and Distribution, a mid-range distributor
that made its bow at ShoWest 2002, plans a Feb. 21 release.
in Phoenix? More like Phoenix in the cold: He stars next
in Its All About Love, a romantic
drama, set in the future during a new ice age, about two
former lovers who reunite in New York. Dogme 95 director
Thomas Vinterberg directed from a screenplay by Vinterberg
and Mogens Rukov (The Celebration). Claire Danes
(Brokedown Palace) costars with Phoenix and
Sean-Michael Smith (Dancer in the Dark). The
film, which opened in Europe this summer, has yet to secure
Joaquin Phoenix, Signs son Rory Culkin is one
of the youngest of a multi-actor family. By the time you
read this, Culkin will likely already be back on the big
screen - opposite older brother Kieran - in Igby
Goes Down. (Read more about Igby on
this month's preview.)
Few Good Years finds young master Culkin playing
make-believe with another famous acting family. Michael
Douglas (Dont Say a Word), Kirk Douglas
(Diamonds), Cameron Douglas (Mr. Nice
Guy), Diana Douglas, Michelle Monaghan (Unfaithful)
and Bernadette Peters (Snow Day) star in a dark
comedy about three generations of a dysfunctional New York
family and their attempts to reconcile. Fred Schepisi (Fierce
Creatures, Last Orders) directs from a
screenplay by Jesse Wigutow. MGM puts a bow on the project,
previously known as Smack in the Kisser, for
Christmas Day, 2002.