With 2011 winding down, all eyes are now on 2012 and what the future will bring. One project knocking around for a while is “Prisoners,” and the new year should bring the film some better fortune. Making the Black List way back in 2009, the film has gone through three directors (Bryan Singer, Daniel Espinosa, and Antoine Fuqua), and a handful of potential stars, before settling on “Incendies” director Denis Villeneuve earlier this year. With Villeneuve recently lining up the Russell Banks adaptation “The Darling,” we wondered what was happening with “Prisoners,” and recently had the opportunity to speak with Alcon Entertainment producer Andrew Kosove about development on the project, as well as few more high profile films he’s got brewing, inlcuding Ridley Scott‘s “Blade Runner” followup, the “Point Break” remake and more.
Penned by Aaron Guzikowski (who wrote the upcoming Mark Wahlberg thriller “Contraband“), “Prisoners” has been compared to such films as “Mystic River,” “Taken,” “Silence of the Lambs” and “Seven.” It centers on a Bible-reading, deer hunting survivalist who takes the law into his own hands after his 6-year-old daughter and her friend are kidnapped and feels failed by a young, brash detective in charge of the investigation who cannot prove that the man he believes is responsible is guilty. A number of major stars have flirted with the lead role, and casting seems to be the issue that is keeping the gritty flick from getting in front of cameras.
“It was not development hell, it was casting hell,” Kosove explained. “It has to be a character actor with leading man qualities that will fit the tonality. Because the character has to do some very ugly things. Leonardo DiCaprio was attached for a long time and had veto power for the director, which we could never work out.”
When asked about the other actors who were mentioned for the role, Kosove said that sadly none are attached. “Jeremy Renner is someone who we always loved for this and would have done it if we had gotten to him a little earlier,” he said. “But by the time we got off of Leo and went to him, the whole ‘Bourne [Legacy]‘ thing was going on. Even though we were engaged in the project. We’ve just been trying to figure out the casting.”
Another person who was mentioned post-Leo was Michael Fassbender, who put those rumors to rest himself last month. However, one thing Kosove wanted to make perfectly clear that despite the directorial and leading man musical chairs, the script that everyone loved so much has remained more or less the same. “I just wanted everyone to know that casting was the issue, that we didn’t dismantle this wonderful screenplay,” Kosove said. “We have not at all. We have tried to cast it properly but we haven’t done anything to the script.”
Villeneuve is still signed on, and if things go as planned, a casting announcement could be around the corner. “He is very much attached,” Kosove confirmed. “He has a meeting early in the year with a potential star with the movie and if that gains momentum,” he says we’ll soon find out who will take on the morally ambiguous antihero role
But “Prisoners” is just one of a handful of projects brewing that Kosove and his Alcon Entertainment are working on. “Hong Kong Phooey,” the adaptation of the animated character from the 1970s show, featuring Eddie Murphy as the voice of Phooey, will, “Be like ‘Alvin,’ in the sense that everything is live action, except for Phooey,” Kosove said. He added: “The technology has really improved immensely and we’ve done a new test with the Phooey character and we’re really excited.” That will shoot in 2012 with a release date for 2013. After that, using a similar formula, work will begin on a “Marvin the Martian” project.
“Nagasaki Deadline,” a Spike Lee thriller set around Japanese history, sadly no longer has that director attached (Martin Campell also eyed the project in its earliest stages). The film centered on an FBI agent and his efforts to avert a terrorist attack that is also tied into an historical event as the title alludes “It remains a priority for us. In light of the reactor tragedy and the tsunami in Japan, it was something this past year we thought was appropriate to put on the backburner and Spike has moved on to other things,” Kosove said. “But it is something we’ll re-address in 2012.”
Similarly, “Brothers in Arms,” a film about the only black U.S. tank unit to fight in the European theater during World War II , has lost a director in Denzel Washington. Kosove said, “Denzel is not going to direct it but he’s still involved as a producer. It’s not something that is an immediate go movie.”
Another high profile title for Alcon is “The Leonardo Job,” a spec from “Pitch Black” writer/director David Twohy that they picked up in September, which features a heist of a lost Leonardo DiVinci painting. “It’s in development,” Kosove said. “We like David Twohy a lot. He’s got a very compelling idea for a movie, with some work on the script, is something that could be a big international thriller. I like movies like this that are a combination of popcorn that is based on truth.”
But of course we were most interested in a pair of remakes/reboots that Alcon currently has control of: a new “Blade Runner” project to be directed by original helmer Ridley Scott, and a remake of Kathryn Bigelow‘s beloved thriller “Point Break.”
We asked if “Blade Runner” would really be Scott’s next project after he finishes post-production on next summer’s hotly anticipated “Prometheus.” “Here’s the thing about Ridley. Ridley is a special guy. He’s a force of nature,” Kosove said. “He’s got a lot of stuff that he’s working on. I believe it’s an extremely high priority for Ridley, that’s what he’s said to me. This project is moving forward aggressively in development.”
Kosove said that there will be an announcement very soon, in terms of what, exactly, the project is. “Sometime in the first two months of the new year we’ll announce who the screenwriter will be and whether or not it’s a prequel or sequel. And then we’ll be off to the races.” Scott himself said last month the movie is “liable to be sequel” but it appears nothing is quite set just yet.
As for “Point Break,” we wondered if surfing would be jettisoned (an official synopsis makes a cryptic reference to “extreme sports”). “This is the thing — surfing is a part of it, but I will tell you that we believe firmly, in terms of remaking a film like this, we’ve got to make it fresh,” Kosove said. He then cited a recent 1980s remake of an example of what “Point Break” would not be. “It’s not a literal remake of the original the way ‘Footloose‘ was — it was identical to the original film. [Our ‘Point Break’] has got elements of the original and it’s not just surfing, it’s other kinds of extreme sports, but surfing is very, very prominent in the story.” He says that the folks at Alcon have figured out who they want to direct, but they can’t announce just yet. “We’re out to a director now, so if it were to go in that direction, it’d be a big announcement. We have someone who we think is the perfect filmmaker. I’d be very surprised if we weren’t in pre-production in 2012.”
Sounds like 2012 will be a big year for Alcon Entertainment who are taking an intriguing, exciting path of pairing blockbuster entertainment with directors and actors who have distinct voices and stories to tell.