Frank Marshall is best known as a producer, having served as such on such beloved films as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins, The Goonies and Back to the Future. Though he's helmed a number of feature films, he is far less distinguished as a director. That's because he's responsible for Arachnophobia, Alive, Congo and most recently the 2011 sled-dog adventure Eight Below. But the lack of prestige pics hasn't deterred Paramount Pictures from picking Marshall to helm their upcoming shipwreck drama The Longest Night.
THR reports Marshall has signed on to helm The Longest Night and will be working with a screenplay penned by Jonathan Lemkin, the screenwriter behind The Devil's Advocate and the Mark Wahlberg-fronted crime-drama Shooter. The new drama will be based on a 2008 GQ article by Sean Flynn. Here's the first paragraph of the piece that inspired the film:
"One Easter Sunday, the Alaska Ranger—a fishing boat out of Dutch Harbor—went down in the Bering Sea, 6,000 feet deep and thirty-two degrees cold. Forty-seven people were on board, and nearly half of them would spend hours floating alone in the darkness, in water so frigid it can kill a man in minutes. Forty-two of them would be rescued."
Pardon the pun, but there's been a wave of shipwreck movies in Hollywood lately. Last year saw the release of All is Lost, an experimental drama from J.C. Chandor that had Robert Redford playing a lone sailor struggling to survive when his boat's hull is critically breached. This Christmas will see the release of Unbroken, a biopic helmed by Angelina Jolie telling the incredible true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who survived a plane crash while serving in World War II only to be stranded on the high seas for 47 days.
Next spring will bring Heart of the Sea, which is being directed by Ron Howard and is a sprawling docudrama that will reveal the shocking events that befell a whaling ship in 1820 that was famously struck by a whale, causing a brutal journey that led to cannibalism and ultimately inspired Moby Dick. Lastly, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has deigned to headline Not Without Hope, yet another docudrama that will depict the harrowing memoir of Nick Schuyler, a football player who saw a fishing trip with friends become a total nightmare when their boat capsized in deathly-chilly Atlantic waters.
Of all these productions, I'd personally have the lowest expectations for The Longest Night, but that's not to say I'm not excited about it. Sure, Marshall isn't a well-renowned director, but that doesn't bother me. I vividly remember the terror and excitement I experienced when I was a kid watching Arachnophobia and Alive. As for Congo, I know it was a ridiculous and a sloppy cash-grab intended to cash-in on Jurassic Park hysteria, but it's fun. So is Lemkin's Devil's Advocate, garish, dumb and fun.
Sometimes I go to a movie wanting a glorious spectacle that inspires awe and speaks to the courage of mankind. Sometimes I'm totally down for clicking off my brain and just enjoying some primate madness with lasers. With all the high-prestige takes on shipwreck tales we'll be getting in the coming months, I'm into the idea of something that will likely be lower brow, and perhaps a little bit absurd. They don't all need to be Oscar-bait.