While Sundance Film Festival award winners have a history of moving into much more commercial projects, Craig Brewer may set a land speed record for leaping into would-be blockbuster franchises.
Brewer, who directed the 2006 Audience Award winner “Hustle & Flow,” has signed on to write and direct a trilogy of Tarzan movies for Warner Bros. The producer is Jerry Weintraub, who worked with another Sundance Audience Award winner on another Warner Bros. trilogy, “Oceans” 11-13. (By comparison, Soderbergh won for “Sex, Lies and Videotape” back in 1989.)
If Brewer makes his trilogy, he’ll be joining an intimate circle. In addition to Soderbergh, other Sundance winners-turned-franchise-filmmakers include Robert Rodriguez (“El Mariachi” to “Spy Kids”) and Bryan Singer (“Public Access” to “X-Men” and “Superman Returns”) And if you stretch it, you could add Kevin Smith, who won the 1994 Filmmakers Trophy: Dramatic with “Clerks” and went on to make “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” in 2001 and “Clerks II” in 2006.
However, for project size and distance covered, Brewer is hard to beat. As a point of comparison, things were really dire for Brewer when he and his wife moved to Memphis in the mid-90s. As indieWIRE reported back in 2006:
“My wife and I were really struggling,” said Brewer. Jodi, a costume designer, started making outfits for strippers for extra cash, then worked as a waitress at a strip club and later began stripping there.
Of course, this isn’t Brewer’s first major-studio project. He’s directing Paramount Pictures’ “Footloose,” which will be released in October.