Variety is reporting that Focus Features, the indie wing of monolithic Universal Pictures that has had a great year so far with sleeper hits in the stop-motion-animated marvel “ParaNorman” and the Wes Anderson romp “Moonrise Kingdom,” has just acquired an untitled thriller pitch from “Compliance” director Craig Zobel. Zobel will write and direct the movie. Plot specifics are being kept under wraps, so we can go ahead and wildly speculate that it’s about a vampire that falls in love with a robot but their love is put to the test when they uncover a conspiracy to assassinate the president of Uganda.
Zobel, whose Sundance stunner “Compliance” is currently in limited release, is currently on a hot streak. The David Gordon Green protégé and collaborator recently signed on to direct “Z for Zachariah,” a Black List-placing script by Nissar Nodi, based on the Edgar-winning posthumously published novel by Robert C. O’Brien that will star Tobey Maguire as a mysterious stranger in a post-apocalyptic Midwestern United States. (The novel, interestingly, was published a year after the author’s death, cobbled together from notes and outlines from the pseudonymous O’Brien, by his wife and daughter.) Zobel also produced Green’s secret “Prince Avalanche,” starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, which should make its debut next year.
As the Variety report notes, Focus is gearing up for the Oscar season blitzkrieg, including prestige pictures like Joe Wright‘s costume extravaganza “Anna Karenina,” Gus Van Sant‘s surprise 2012 entry “Promised Land” (with Matt Damon) and the Bill Murray-as-FDR historical drama “Hyde Park on Hudson,” which looks about as close to a cinematic Ambien as they come. They’ll undoubtedly ramp up campaigns for the coveted “Moonrise Kingdom” and push aggressively for a Best Animated Feature nod for “ParaNorman.”
The Zobel thriller seems like it is a few years off, at least, but he seems to be poising himself as a fresh and uncompromising new voice in genre filmmaking, which we could always use. Rian Johnson and Duncan Jones were getting lonely, and Neill Blomkamp won’t return their calls.