Acclaimed indie director James Ponsoldt is being called up to the big leagues. Disney has announced it is in early development on “Wild City,” an ambitious CGI/live-action hybrid adventure that comes from an original idea by Ponsoldt. The movie will be the first studio film in the director’s career, and he’ll also tackle writing duties. The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news.
Ponsoldt first broke out with his 2012 drama “Smashed,” which starred Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul and ended up winning the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing at the Sundance Film Festival. He earned rave reviews for coming-of-age romance “The Spectacular Now” and last year’s David Foster Wallace drama “The End Of The Tour,” which many had hoped would find some love in the Oscar race. “Wild City” joins his busy slate, which also includes adapting and directing “I Want My MTV.”
While Disney hiring an indie director is hardly anything new — just look at David Lowery and “Pete’s Dragon” as a recent example — it is surprising that they are gearing up for a big-budget original family adventure. The studio’s recent live-action efforts have been mostly adaptations of their most popular animated films (i.e. “The Jungle Book,” “Pete’s Dragon” and March’s “Beauty and the Beast”), so the fact they’re willing to gamble on Ponsoldt’s original idea, which will include a lot of CGI, is a pretty big deal.
Before he jumps head first into the studio world, Ponsoldt also has the Dave Eggers adaptation “The Circle” in post-production. The film stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega.