While his methods may keep studio accountants up at night, there’s no denying that Gore Verbinski knows how to put spectacle on the big screen. Over the course of three “Pirates Of The Caribbean” movies he’s made a lot of people a lot of money, while “Rango” showed he’s got surreal flavors rolled up in his blockbuster sleeve. And while this summer’s “The Lone Ranger” will hope to repeat his multiplex domination, for his next effort it looks like he’s changing gears significantly.
Verbinski has signed on to direct “Pyongyang,” an adaptation of the graphic novel by Guy Deslisle. Penned by Steve Conrad, who wrote Verbinski’s low key “The Weather Man,” the book by French-Canadian cartoonist Delisle chronicles his travels in North Korea (something rare for a Westerner), thanks to a work visa obtained for his gig working on a children’s cartoon show. But while there, he gets accused of espionage. Here’s the Amazon synopsis:
In 2001, French-Canadian cartoonist Delisle traveled to North Korea on a work visa to supervise the animation of a children’s cartoon show for two months. While there, he got a rare chance to observe firsthand one of the last remaining totalitarian Communist societies. He also got crappy ice cream, a barrage of propaganda and a chance to fly paper airplanes out of his 15th-floor hotel window. Combining a gift for anecdote and an ear for absurd dialogue, Delisle’s retelling of his adventures makes a gently humorous counterpoint to the daily news stories about the axis of evil, a Lost in Translation for the Communist world. Delisle shifts between accounts of his work as an animator and life as a visitor in a country where all foreigners take up only two floors of a 50-story hotel. Delisle’s simple but expressive art works well with his account, humanizing the few North Koreans he gets to know (including “Comrade Guide” and “Comrade Translator”), and facilitating digressions into North Korean history and various bizarre happenings involving brandy and bear cubs.
No word yet on if the comedy will be live action or animated, but we could see it going either way. We like this change of pace for Verbinski because his non-tentpole work, while not always successful, has been very interesting nonetheless. But until then, he’s busy on “The Lone Ranger” as he gets it ready to ride into theaters on July 3rd.