Directors’ Cut 2:
Class of 2004
by Patrick Corcoran
Twenty-three films topped $100 million in
2004, collectively accounting for more than $4 billion
at the domestic box office.
Movies are a star-driven business, as this
column often seeks to demonstrate, but there were creative
behind these blockbusters, all of whom are also now very
much in demand.
Here now a look at what awaits the 26 men
and one woman who directed 2004’s $100-million-plus
1-3. Andrew Adamson,
Kelly Asbury & Conrad Vernon
Domestic Theatrical Gross: $436.4 million.
2004’s top-grossing film also has the distinction
of being the highest-grossing animated film ever, surpassing
previous record-holder “Finding Nemo” in a
staggeringly fast three weeks. Director Adamson next helms “The
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” a
live-action fantasy adventurer about four children who
discover within a wardrobe closet a mysterious world threatened
by an evil witch. It’s based on the children’s
fantasy novel series by C.S. Lewis (“The Screwtape
Letters”). Adamson directs from a screenplay by Adamson,
Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (the TV-movie “The
Life and Death of Peter Sellers”), and Anne Peacock
(“In My Country”). James Cosmo (“Troy”),
James McAvoy (“Wimbledon,” “Bright Young
Things”), Elizabeth Hawthorne (“The Frighteners”)
and Tilda Swinton (“Constantine”) star. Rupert
Everett (“Shrek 2,” “Stage Beauty”)
provides the voice of Mr. Fox and Dawn French (“Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) the voice of
Mrs. Beaver. Buena Vista lets it out of wardrobe and make-up
According to a January 2004 report in Daily
Variety, another of the “Shrek 2” directors, Kelly Asbury (“Spirit:
Stallion of the Cimarron”), was set to write and
direct “Imaginary Children,” a live-action
CGI fantasy about a boy who feels his cartoonist father
may like his imaginary characters better than his own flesh-and-blood
son. The production from Southpaw Entertainment (“House
of D”) does not yet have a distribution deal.
There’s less word yet on what might be ahead for
Conrad Vernon, who made his feature directorial debut with “Shrek
4. Sam Raimi
DTG: $373.3 million.
“I’d love to be in ‘Spider-Man 3’!’” actress
Chloe Sevigny gushed to the New York
Daily News in March. “There’s
a villain in it who’s a blond, buxom girl, and I’m
trying to get it!” As a result of the comment, legions
of Internet geeks have come to speculate that white-haired
villainess Felicia Hardy (secret identity: The Black Cat!)
will be a major player in the project. Presumably, she
will not be played by Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways”),
whom Sony confirms will play a supervillain to be named
later. (Internet movie-gossip site Ain’t It Cool
News says Church will play Sandman.) As mentioned in many
a prior edition of Next!, those returning to the franchise
from part two include Raimi, screenwriter Alvin Sargent,
and actors Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco.
Sony exuded super-confidence in setting a May 4, 2007 release
before “2” had even opened.
There’s also word that Raimi is planning to follow
the third Spidey by directing a fourth “Evil Dead” movie
that would reteam him with the series’ lead actor,
5. Mel Gibson
“The Passion of the Christ”
DTG: $370.2 million.
Gibson’s directorial follow-up to “Passion” was,
curiously, the pilot to the failed Fox sitcom “Complete
Savages,” but he still hasn’t announced what
he’ll direct next for the big screen.
6. Jay Roach
“Meet the Fockers”
DTG: $277.6 million (and counting).
Roach became attached last summer to direct Fox Searchlight’s “Charlie
Bartlett,” a comedy about a teen who gains popularity
by supplying prescription drugs to his peers. The in-development
project was scripted by newcomer Gustin Nash.
7. Brad Bird
DTG: $261.2 million (and counting).
“The Incredibles” was only the second feature directorial
project ever completed by Bird, who has been a professional
animator at least since the early 1980s. Bird has not yet
said how he will follow his smash superhero saga, but one
imagines an “Incredibles” sequel may not be
out of the question.
8. Alfonso Cuaron
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner
DTG: $249.3 million.
Cuaron is considering lending his directorial talent to
numerous projects. “The Memory of Running” is
a Warner Bros. project, based on Ron McLarty’s 1988
novel, about a Vietnam vet’s bicycle journey to Los
Angeles to claim his dead sister’s body. “The
History of Love” is a Warner Bros. project, based
on an upcoming novel by Nicole Krauss (“Man Walks
Into A Room”), about an octogenarian New Yorker who
doesn’t know the book he wrote and lost was published
decades ago in Chile under another man’s name. “Mexico ‘68,” written
by Vincente Lenero (“The Crime of Father Amaro”),
would examine the nation’s violent 1968 student revolt.
Cuaron has also been attached since 2001 to rewrite and
direct Universal’s “The Children of Men,” based
on the future-set P.D. James science fiction novel about
the first human pregnancy in 27 years.
9. Roland Emmerich
“The Day After Tomorrow”
DTG: $186.7 million.
Emmerich’s 2004 blockbuster helped make real, if
catastrophically rapid, the concept of global warming.
Next, with the help of screenwriter John Orloff (HBO’s “Band
of Brothers”), he sets out to debunk William Shakespeare. “Soul
of the Age” is a political thriller set in Elizabethan
England that looks into the theory that Shakespeare did
not write the plays with which he is credited. Filming
is reportedly set to begin this fall with an all-British
cast. It has yet to line up a U.S. distributor.
10. Paul Greengrass
“The Bourne Supremacy”
DTG: $176.0 million.
Based on the seminal 1986-1987 graphic novel written by
Alan Moore (“From Hell,” “The League
of Extraordinary Gentlemen”), “Watchmen” is
the tale of a disturbed ex-superhero trying to track down
the mystery man who killed one of his fellow former costumed
crime fighters. The one-time Universal project is now at
Paramount with an expected 2006 release date. Greengrass
directs from a reportedly faithful screenplay adaptation
by David Hayter (the “X-Men” series).
When that project wraps, or possibly before,
Greengrass is expected to helm the third installment of
the “Bourne” series, “The
Bourne Ultimatum.” Robert Ludlum’s book deals
with Webb setting out to protect his wife and small children
when a rival assassin learns of Webb’s secret Jason
Bourne identity. Returnees from the first two installments
are expected to include scripter Tony Gilroy and actor
Matt Damon. Universal ultimately anticipates a 2007 release.
11. Jon Turteltaub
DTG: $171.1 million (and counting).
Turteltaub’s resume is festooned with big Disney
hits, including “3 Ninjas,” “Cool Runnings,” “While
You Were Sleeping,” “Phenomenon” and “The
Kid,” but “National Treasure” was easily
the biggest. Turteltaub took four years between “The
Kid” and “Treasure,” which might explain
why there’s been no word of how the director intends
12. Robert Zemeckis
“The Polar Express”
DTG: $162.7 million (and counting).
Zemeckis has reportedly expressed interest in directing “The
Corrections,” based on Jonathan Franzen’s 2001
National Book Award-winning best seller (and erstwhile
Oprah’s Book Club pick). The book, adapted into screenplay
form by David Hare (“The Hours”), deals with
an elderly mother’s Christmastime reunion with her
family, which includes: a depressed, married portfolio
manager; a disgraced academic pursuing a screenwriting
career with little success; a female chef carrying on an
affair with a married woman; and their Parkinson’s-stricken
inventor father. Paramount has yet to schedule a start
13-15. Vicky Jenson,
Bibo Bergeron & Rob Letterman
DTG: $160.7 million.
Jenson previously directed “Shrek.” Bergeron
previously directed “The Road to El Dorado.” “Shark
Tale” was Letterman’s feature directorial debut.
There is no word on what any of them are planning next.
16. Alex Proyas
DTG: $144.7 million.
Proyas became attached in February to direct “Knowing,” a
sci-fi thriller about an unearthed time capsule full of
fearsome predictions – some of which have already
come true. The screenplay is by Stiles White and Juliet
Snowden (“The Boogeyman”), based on an earlier
script by novelist Ryne Pearson. Though once a Sony project,
no distributor was attached when Proyas signed on.
17. Wolfgang Petersen
DTG: $133.2 million.
Petersen walks away from “Troy’s” wooden
horse to contend with upgrading wooden dialogue and acting
in “The Poseidon Adventure.” The remake of
the 1972 disaster epic follows the adventures of a small
band of survivors as they struggle to escape a cruise ship
capsized by a monstrous tidal wave. The screenplay is by
Mark Protosevich (“The Cell”). No cast or embarrassingly
earnest theme song has been announced. And this Warner
Bros. project is not to be confused with NBC’s “Poseidon
Adventure” miniseries, which will air well before
the big-screen remake is slated to wash over cinemas the
summer of 2006.
18. Steven Soderbergh
DTG: $125.5 million (and counting).
Fresh from his segment of the anthology feature “Eros,” Soderbergh
tackles “Che,” a drama based on the true story
of Argentine doctor and communist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara,
who led Fidel Castro’s forces in a guerrilla campaign
against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Bastista. The screenplay
is by Terrence Malick (“The Thin Red Line”).
Benicio Del Toro (“Sin City”), Ryan Gosling
(“The Notebook”), Javier Bardem (“Collateral”),
Benjamin Bratt (“Catwoman,” “The Woodsman”)
and Franka Potente (“The Bourne Supremacy”)
were reportedly set to star. Production was set to begin
19. Peter Segal
“50 First Dates”
DTG: $120.7 million.
Segal’s remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds prison football
comedy “The Longest Yard,” which reteams him
with Adam Sandler, should just now be hitting the big screen.
Segal moves on to “Dealbreaker,” a comedy-fantasy
about a man who, to get out of jams, keeps making deals
with God – but never fulfills his end of the deals
until, during a near-drowning, The Almighty insists. The
screenplay is by Samantha Goodman and Andrew Stern. Paramount
plans to send it down from the mountain sometime next year.
20. Stephen Sommers
DTG: $120.0 million.
After a long association with Universal Pictures, Sommers
is set to write and direct for Paramount a remake of the
1951 sci-fi thriller “When Worlds
humans forced to flee Earth before another planet destroys
In addition, Universal Pictures in February
acquired Terry Brooks’ “Magic
Kingdom For Sale” book series for Sommers
to direct. Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel (“Robots”)
have signed on to script the project, about an attorney
and father of two who gets more than he bargained for when
he answers a mysterious advertisement.
Sommers acquired, last summer, the rights to the 1934 comic
strip “Flash Gordon,” about
a football star who gets involved with an interplanetary
is said to be scripting the project for Universal, but
it isn’t certain he’ll also direct.
21. Michael Moore
DTG: $119.0 million.
Documentarian and rabble-rouser Moore takes on the health-care
industry with “Sicko,” a follow-up to the record-breaking
and controversial “Fahrenheit 9/11.” It will
likely be released by The Weinstein Company following its
principals’ departure from Miramax.
22. Brad Silberling
A Series of Unfortunate Events”
DTG: $118.4 million (and counting).
Silberling became attached last summer to direct Paramount’s “Lost
Boys of Sudan,” about children orphaned by the nation’s
civil war. It has a script by Margaret Nagle, but no start
23. Rawson Marshall Thurber
A True Underdog Story”
DTG: $114.3 million.
“Dodgeball” was Thurber’s feature directorial
debut and the filmmaker – who turned 30 in February
and first made his name with the comedy short “Terry
Tate, Office Linebacker” – has not yet revealed
his next play.
24. M. Night Shyamalan
DTG: $114.1 million.
The writer-director behind “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Signs” returns
to the realm of fantasy with “Lady in the Water,” a
thriller about an apartment-building superintendent who
discovers a sea nymph in the pool. Paul Giamatti (“Sideways,” “Cinderella
Man”) and Bryce Dallas Howard (“The Village”)
play the leads. After four straight blockbusters for Disney’s
Touchstone label, Shyamalan is writing and directing this
one for Warner Bros. Expect it to surface July 2006.
DTG: $110.1 million.
Having successfully released, and then remade in English,
his Japanese language hit “Ju-on: The Grudge,” Shimizu
looks to repeat the feat. It’s unknown whether his
Japanese-language sequel, “Ju-on: The Grudge 2” will
be released in the U.S., but its remake assuredly will. “The
Grudge 2” is expected to reunite Shimizu
with “Grudge” scripter
Stephen Susco and star Sara Michelle Gellar. No word on
plot or additional casting is available. Sony is expected
to hold to a 2006 release date.
26. Martin Scorsese
DTG: $101.2 million (and counting).
Scorsese reunites with Leonardo DiCaprio for “The
Departed,” a remake of the Hong Kong crime thriller “Infernal
Affairs.” Scripted by William Monahan (“Kingdom
of Heaven”), the American version is about a gangster
who infiltrates the Boston Police Department. DiCaprio’s
castmates include Jack Nicholson (“Something’s
Gotta Give”), Matt Damon (“The Bourne Ultimatum”),
Mark Wahlberg (“I Heart Huckabees”), Anthony
Anderson (“King’s Ransom”), Ray Winstone
(“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and
the Wardrobe”) and Vera Farmiga (“The Manchurian
Candidate”). Warner Bros. lets it arrive in cinemas
27. Michael Mann
DTG: $100.0 million
As longtime Next! readers are aware, Mann’s ‘80s
TV crime drama “Miami Vice” is
speeding to the big screen, with Mann himself writing and
We’ve known for some time that Colin Farrell (“Alexander”)
is to play detective James “Sonny” Crockett,
Jamie Foxx (“Ray”) Ricardo Tubbs. The news
is Gong Li (“Zhou Yu’s Train,” “Eros”)
will play the Chinese-Cuban wife of a criminal mastermind.
Universal breaks out the pastels and neon July 28, 2006.