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Director Watch: Nichols and Hoffman Do Salesman, Aronofsky for Wolverine 2, Affleck and Morel

Director Watch: Nichols and Hoffman Do Salesman, Aronofsky for Wolverine 2, Affleck and Morel

Thompson on Hollywood

Philip Seymour Hoffman will play Willy Loman on Broadway next fall in Tony and Oscar winning director Mike Nichols’ take on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. It’s a role Hoffman has been lusting after, Nichols told the NY Times. The pair, who worked together in 2001 for a Central Park production of The Seagull, have been planning the production for months and agreed upon Linda Emond to play across from Hoffman as Linda Loman. Nichols is not worried about Hoffman’s 43 years vs. Loman’s 60-something, “what matters is finding the right man to play the part.” Brian Dennehy played the part in 1999 when he was 60 and Dustin Hoffman played the role at 47 in 1984.

Thompson on Hollywood

– Hugh Jackman is excited to get to work again with Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain) on Wolverine 2 in early 2011. With a script written by The Usual Suspects writer Chris McQuarrie and given Aronofsky’s dark style, Jackman foresees the film as being different from the other X-Men films and the usual franchise fare. He says it will mark “a change of pace…This is Wolverine. This is not Popeye. He’s kind of dark.” Jackman hopes the film will be “out of the box” and trusts that Aronofsky is “going to make it fantastic.” The franchise entry will also allow Aronofsky to prove himself in the arena of big-budget VFX-laden studio production.

– Warner Bros. is talking with filmmaker-du-jour Ben Affleck about directing (and possibly starring in) long-in-the-works Replay, based on a Ken Grimwood novel and a subsequent Jason Smilovic adaptation about a man who dies and wakes up as his eighteen-year -old self with a chance to do it all over again. Affleck is waiting to make his next directorial move until his notes are incorporated into Smilovic’s script as well as Dave Mandel’s The Trade, for which he’s also been offered the reins.

Taken director Pierre Morel, currently working on a Dune reboot, is poised to take the director’s seat for a Ouija board movie that is being hyped as more of an action-adventure a la National Treasure than a genre horror film. Michael Bay’s production company (Platinum Dunes) and a handful of Lost writers are likely to keep it within the perameters of the mainstream and potentially franchisable.

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Anne Thompson

Actually, Darren Aronofsky is a director who has towed his own line more than most–this move is a considered commercial one–but I bet the movie will be more compelling to watch as a result. Aronofsky is nothing if not ambitious–and he does want to play in the studio bullpen and knows he has to earn his stripes to do so. These small-budget movies are heartbreakers. Tough.

As for Paul Thomas Anderson, he’ll never budge. An indie to the last. (I will probably live to eat these words.)

Keil Shults

As much as I love Aronofsky, I really wish he wouldn’t do this Wolverine project. If it were a complete reboot of the character and franchise (a la Superman Returns or Batman Begins), I’d be willing to go along with it. But making a sequel (however great) to a forgettable film spawned from a mediocre franchise seems like a total waste of Aronofsky’s time and talent. I suppose that earning big bucks from such a project will better enable him to tackle personal projects in the future, but it just sucks that there is now an entry in his filmography that I have almost no interest in seeing. If Paul Thomas Anderson signs on for Ghost Rider 2 I may eat a bullet.

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