Curtis Hanson was on quite a roll for a while there. “L.A. Confidential,” “Wonder Boys” and “8 Mile” were a trifecta of critical hits (“Wonder Boys” didn’t do so hot at the box office) that put the helmer in the top tier of filmmakers. Unfortunately, his next two efforts found him stumbling hard with “In Your Shoes” and “Lucky You” which were big misses all around. All while he’s currently found a home at HBO where he’s wrapping up the financial meltdown drama “Too Big To Fail” (geez, another one?), his planned to return to the big screen just got a major boost.
Deadline reports that Gerard Butler has decided to hit the waves with Hanson in the surfing pic “Mavericks,” a biopic of late surfer Jay Moriarty. The Santa Cruz native found his calling in the world of surfing at a young age and soon flourished with the guidance of local elder Rick “Frosty” Hesson, the role Butler is being lined up to play. The former lifeguard trained Moriarty with a vigorous mental and physical program in preparation to surf Mavericks, a spot on the California coast where waves five stories tall would come in during the winter swells. Moriarty tragically passed away the day before his 23rd birthday in a free-diving accident in the Maldives.
Sean Penn was linked in the role a year ago, and Russell Crowe was also rumored at one point, but Butler has prevailed. Hanson is now on the hunt for an actor take on the role of Moriarty.
So what’s the plan? Butler will first shoot the soccer dramedy “Playing the Field,” (formerly known as “Slide“) with “Seven Pounds” and “The Pursuit of Happyness” director Gabriele Muccino first, before moving over to “Mavericks” which will give Hanson some time to get the rest of his cast assembled.
Sounds like an interesting project but if we have one worry, it’s that Walden Media — know for purely lighthearted, accessible and rote family fare like “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Bandslam” and “The Tooth Fairy” — are behind the film and we hope it’s not just a routine inspirational story. Because if it is, we think “Soul Surfer,” coming out in a couple of months, will fill the surfing-movie-with-heart niche fine enough.