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Directors: Peter Berg In, J.C. Chandor Out For ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ James Franco To Helm ‘In Dubious Battle’ & More

Directors: Peter Berg In, J.C. Chandor Out For 'Deepwater Horizon,' James Franco To Helm 'In Dubious Battle' & More

One of the most fascinating filmmaking voices of the moment, and certainly one of the most prolific, J.C. Chandor has been moving from project to project — “Margin Call,” “All Is Lost,” “A Most Violent Year” — shifting from one genre to the next with ease. He had been on track to get his biggest project yet going, “Deepwater Horizon” starring Mark Wahlberg, but the director’s participation has sunk.

Chandor has exited the movie over the standard “creative differences.” Instead, Wahlberg’s “Lone Survivor” bud Peter Berg has stepped in to help, and yeah, “creative differences” starts to make a whole lot of sense now. Penned by Matthew Sand and Matthew Carnahan, the film is based on the true events that occurred on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and chronicles the courage of those who worked on the Deepwater Horizon and the extreme moments of bravery and survival in the face of what would become one of the biggest man-made disasters in world history. The film is slated to open on September 30, 2016. [Deadline]

After returning from Sundance where he starred in a small handful of movies, James Franco is of course gearing up to direct yet another picture. This time he’s putting his hands on John Steinbeck and will helm an adaptation of “In Dubious Battle.” Franco himself, plus Selena Gomez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Robert Duvall, Ed Harris, Bryan Cranston, and Danny McBride, will star in the story “which portrays the struggle between labor and capital in 1930s America as close to all out warfare.” Filming starts in March. [Deadline]

This next bit was inevitable. After impressing genre heads with the much-better-than-it-should-have-been “John Wick,”  David Leitch and Chad Stahelski have been called up to the big leagues to direct “Cowboy Ninja Viking” for Universal. Set to star Chris Pratt, and based on a graphic novel, “the story follows a man who suffers from multiple personality disorder and is put into a government program to be turned into a super-soldier with the attributes of a cowboy, a ninja and a viking.” [Variety]

The Imitation Game” director Morten Tyldum is going to try to use his Oscar nomination juice to get the long developing “Passengers” off the ground. He’s now attached to helm the sci-fi love story set “on a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet and has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger.” The previously attached Keanu Reeves and Rachel McAdams are no longer involved. [Deadline]

The Help” director Tate Taylor is going to try and that speech from “Jaws” turned into a feature length movie. The long brewing project follows “11-year-old Hunter Scott, who needed a project with which to compete in a National History Day Contest. He watched ‘Jaws’ and came away inspired and researched how the warship got sunk by torpedoes on its return voyage from delivering the Hiroshima bomb. Because the mission was secret, the crew floated for five days, easy pickings for the giant sharks that swam the waters. The youth learned how ship captain Charles McVay was unjustly court-martialed. He set out to find the truth behind the worst U.S. Naval disaster in history. What he discovered was that the only proper designation was a hero, for McVay’s actions under horrible duress and unimaginable carnage.” Robert and Susan Downey are producing. [Deadline]

Jay Roach is making a movie described as a cross between “The Hangover” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” called “Mad Dogs.” Sounding not unlike “The Dream Team,” the story follows “three dysfunctional guys working low-level jobs in U.S. Intelligence who have been deemed crazy and sent to a government mental hospital for spies. Convinced someone wants them dead, they hatch an escape plan. It’s obvious they know too much but their only hope to survive is to figure out what exactly it is that they know.” [THR]

Peter Greenway is gearing up to helm “Walking To Paris.” It is a biopic of sculptor Constantin Brancusi and “will focus on the 18 months when a 27-year-old Brancusi walked through Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France.” Filming starts in March. [Screen Daily]

300: Rise Of An Empire” helmer Noam Murro has signed up to direct “Blink.” The logline: “Years after being left fully paralyzed during an infamous, unsolved bank robbery, a man is taken hostage for the secrets in his head. With only the use of his eyes, he has to outwit his captors and solve the mystery of the heist.”

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