Screen Talk: Beginning of the end


Given the apocalyptic weather and natural disasters that hit parts of the world in 2011, many movies in development reflect harsh prospects for humans on earth.

M Night Shyamalan, a director famous for his movie twists and mystery, is prepping 1000 A.E. It's backed by Columbia and billed as a sci-fi action adventure in which humans no longer live on Earth after it becomes inhospitable. Starring Will Smith and his son Jaden, it is also attracting auditions from Zoë Kravitz (above left) and Sophie Okonedo, with an early 2012 shoot in mind. Shyamalan, Gary Whitta and Stephen Gaghan worked on the script.

Good steer for Rosa

A comic-book artist and short film-maker from Spain named Jesus Orellana has found himself riding high in Hollywood on the back of the first thing he ever directed. Orellana created and directed Rosa, a sci-fi short, on his computer in Barcelona and put it on the web before it had some festival screenings. Now, 20th Century Fox is on the verge of picking up the rights to Orellana's creation and having him direct a live-action feature based on it. Just a month after his short appeared on the web, Orellana got an LA agent and found himself at the studio pitching the project. He made the short to show his vision for a live-action movie he hoped to direct. Job done. Rosa takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where all natural life has disappeared. From the destruction awakes Rosa, a cyborg deployed from the Kernel project, mankind's last attempt to restore the earth's ecosystem. Rosa soon learns she is not the only entity that has awoken and must fight for her survival.

An action man gets behind the wheel

The British action director Simon West is being wooed to direct a car-racing movie named Dust and Glory. West, whose résumé boasts Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and the Jason Statham-starring The Mechanic, is in negotiations to gun the project's engines. Based on a novel by Evan Green, the romantic adventure is set during the 1950s Redex trials, which covered more than 10,000 miles of some of the toughest racing terrain in Australia. Touted as a cross between Mad Max and Jewel of the Nile, the script is by Robert Lewis Galinsky. It follows the rivalry between an American hotshot and an Australian legend. West is currently shooting The Expendables 2.

Spy Guy

Studios often invest millions of dollars in developing scripts and hiring film-makers to turn the words into images. When that cash has been invested, the show must go on. Plans by Warner Bros. to bring The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to the big screen hit the buffers after Steven Soderbergh dropped out in mid-November due to casting and budgetary issues. But the studio is talking to Guy Ritchie (above centre) and Lionel Wigram, the director and a producer of Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows, about mounting it for them. Hollywood insiders say the project is well developed and was teed up to shoot in 2012. The only real question is whether or not Ritchie and Wigram will keep the previous project's 1960s setting.

The Wright stuff

The American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his rambling hillside compound Taliesin, considered a masterpiece of Prairie-style architecture, are to be the backdrop for a movie. Writer Nicholas Meyer (above right) has written a story based on the scandal that engulfed Wright when he built the house for himself and his married mistress Martha "Mamah" Cheney. In 1914, while Wright was away, a domestic worker murdered Cheney, her two children and four others by locking them inside and setting fire to the building. Bruce Beresford has signed on to develop and direct Taliesin.