Here’s a disturbing trend of late. Didn’t “Days Of Thunder” teach us anything? Sure, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” showed us there’s laughs to be found within the world of auto racing, but seriously, how many great films of this genre can you name? “Death Race 2000,” “Two-Lane Blacktop” and “Grand Prix” are three that come to mind, though “great” is a relative term here (if you named the “Fast & Furious” series and or the “Cannonball Run” films, kindly vacate your seat and leave our chapel, please).
Several projects of this ilk seem to be brewing and we’re not sure if it’s coincidence, natural zeitgeist-shifting in Hollywood, or suits looking over their shoulder saying, “Well, they’re developing something, where’s our version??” And strangely enough, all the people involved in these projects are all highly talented (ok, minus one, coming up). Michael Mann has attached himself to the Ford vs. Ferrari racing pic, “Go Like Hell” for 20th Century Fox, and even though it looks like it may not happen, Paul Greengrass had a recent brush with “Rush,” a Formula Once racing picture that’s being written by Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon“). Even Hollywood badboy of the moment, petulant Brit star Alex Pettyfer is getting into the mix; he’s set to star in a biopic of James Hunt, the Formula One racer who was actually a rival of the protagonist in Morgan’s script. Even Guy Ritchie was rumored to be interested in remaking “The Cannonball Run” (while true, it was more of an idea then a full-blown project anyone is actively pursuing at the moment).
So who’s next? None other than “The Hurt Locker” star Jeremy I Want A Dozen Cakes And I Want To Eat Them Too Renner, who is evidently aiming to dethrone whoever currently owns the title of busiest man in show business (after James Brown died, we lost track of where that title changed hands). But we must say, we understand why, as this story sounds particularly intriguing.
Renner has just signed a deal to produce and star in an underdog racing tale called, “Slingshot” for Paramount. To be written by Don Handfield, the co-owner of Renner’s new producing shingle Combine, the picture will be based on the true story of racer Bill Caswell, an unemployed racing freak who famously bought a $500 jalopy off Craigslist and used it to beat $400,000-plus rally cars in the Mexican leg of the World Rally Championships. Combine is also developing the Steve McQueen biopic that Renner will also produce and star in and that James Gray (“We Own The Night“) will write.
Renner’s to-do list is getting extraordinarily long. It includes “The Bourne Legacy” which shoots later this year, a supporting role in James Gray’s “Low Life” opposite Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, voicing a role in “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” plus in the can (or soon to be in the can) is “Mission Impossible 4,” “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “The Avengers.” He may appear in the football comedy, “Three Mississippi” by Will Ferrell and producer/director Adam McKay and if the producers of the picture are lucky, he won’t bail from the indie picture, “Better Living Through Chemistry” which he signed on for before he became white-hot property. We briefly kvetched he was taking on too many tentpoles, but it sounds like he heard us loud and clear and set up Combine to offset all the mainstream glare. Thanks Jeremy, we appreciate it. [Showblitz]