Ben Affleck Passes On Gangster Squad, And Here's Who Might Replace Him
Yesterday's Vulture piece about Fox offering Wolverine 2 to Darren Aronofsky is the news gift that keeps on giving-- Eric already mined it for some plot details about the Superman project that Aronofsky passed on and Zack Snyder will now direct, but there's even more news in there about a different, smaller project, Tales from the Gangster Squad. Vulture first reported that Ben Affleck was interested in directing the 1940s-era cops and robbers drama, and now they're reporting that he's moved on (after also passing on the Superman directing job!)
Warner Bros. went on to offer the project to Aronofsky, who presumably will be very busy with Wolverine 2 on his schedule but is still considering the smaller-scale gangster film. But, of course, the studio is prepared for him to pass, and Latino Review reports they know the shortlist of directors who will be offered the project next: Francis Lawrence, Paul Greengrass, Scott Cooper, Greg Berlanti and Martin Campbell.
Aside from the fact that these guys are all white men, it's hard to think of a more varied list of names. Greengrass is the shaky-cam visionary behind the second two Bourne films and this year's flop Green Zone; Lawrence made a splash with I Am Legend and has since moved on to the period circus-set romance Water for Elephants; Cooper's directorial debut was the small-scale Crazy Heart, which of course won Jeff Bridges an Oscar; Berlanti's latest feature is the romantic dramedy Life as We Know It, but he also has superhero credentials from writing Green Lantern, which is directed by the last name on the list, Martin Campbell, who also made the excellent Casino Royale.
So why on earth does Warner Bros. think all five of these guys would be a good fit for a Los Angeles cops and robbers drama? Cooper and Berlanti are particularly unproven with anything resembling the genre, especially since Latino Review describes the project as a "high priority" for the studio. I'm all for unexpected choices of directors for material-- and while Lawrence and Campbell might make the most sense for this story, they'd be my least favorite choices-- but I'm really wondering what kind of stellar pitch Cooper and Berlanti came up with to make it to this stage of consideration (Greengrass, despite the disaster of Green Zone, is presumably on any shortlist for an action-centric movie).
With so many directors shuffling around right now we'll presumably get some final word about this soon enough, and even though Tales from the Gangster Squad isn't nearly as giant a project as Superman or Wolverine 2, it's one I'm not totally burned out by already, so I'll be following this one with interest.
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