Producing and writing giants Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci were starting to look like one trick ponies with a steady slate of tentpole fare including the ‘Transformers‘ and ‘Star Trek‘ series as well as “Cowboys & Aliens.” But last year saw the duo delve into adult drama with “Welcome To People,” a film co-written by Kurtzman, Orci and Jody Lambert, that also marks Kurtzmann’s directorial debut. Shot early last year, we had even named it as a potential awards season dark horse contender, however, that never came to pass.
Now, it seems there may be cause for concern. In a detailed story by Vulture about Kurtzman and Orci’s production shingle K/O Paper Products and their kiboshed partnership with Skydance Productions (which is backed by David Ellison who is, of course, the brother of Annapurna Pictures‘ Megan), the site adds that Disney — who distribute DreamWorks movies — is reportedly trying to bail on releasing “Welcome To People,” which has apparently been wrapped up and ready to go for six months.
It kind of makes sense, though. “Welcome To People” follows the story a twenty-something business man who, after the death of his father, must deliver $150,000 in cash to the alcoholic sister he didn’t know he had, and her son, a 12-year-old with major anger management issues. Heavy stuff and all in all, not exactly in Disney’s current wheelhouse of family-friendly/tentpole fare like “The Avengers,” “Brave” or “Frankenweenie.”
Oddly, Kurtzman’s co-scribe Orci isn’t aware of any problems. As recently as ten days ago, Orci tweeted, “Will all of u who think all we know how to do is rip off old concepts wth explosions give us a chance and see WELCOME TO PEOPLE this summer?” DreamWorks confirmed the summer bow with Vulture, but said that “the actual date is yet to be determined.” But considering that is no date or marketing materials at this point, it remains to be seen if that plan will stick.
If we had to venture a guess, we’d wager that a more indie minded company may come aboard to handle the release and take it out of Disney’s hands. It certainly won’t have a problem attracting interest is that’s the way the mouse house wants to go, with the film boasting a strong cast including Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Jon Favreau, Mark Duplass and Michelle Pffeifer with A.R. Rahman, who we spotted playing along side Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams on the balcony at last night’s Oscars, also on board to score. Massive talent all round. But here’s hoping it doesn’t get stuck in release limbo, and makes its way to screens sooner rather than later.