With the release of Contagion on deck, its screenwriter Scott Z. Burns is already eyeing his next project. In a recent interview with Indiewire, Burns discussed his new thriller The Side Effects for which he will not only pen the script but also direct. The film will apparently revolve around how certain entities take advantage of mankind’s desire to avoid sadness at all costs; namely pharmaceutical companies. The film will be produced by, among others, Lorenzo di Bonaventura whose resume includes Salt and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Burns is looking to start casting immediately.

Scott Z. Burns is an extremely busy guy these days. Having just finished this his third collaboration with Steven Soderbergh (he previously wrote The Informant for him as well as providing some touchups on the Ocean’s 12 script), Burns has also written 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for David Fincher and put together a screenplay for Soderbergh’s next project; a big screen adaptation of TV’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Word is that George Clooney, repeat collaborator and friend of Soderbergh, was supposed to star in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but George’s bad back prevented him from taking part.

I hate to admit Burns was not a name I knew until now, even though I absolutely loved The Informant. It was witty, unique, and loaded with more emotional complexity than expected. As if that weren’t enough, turns out Burns also wrote my favorite of the Jason Bourne franchise: The Bourne Ultimatum. More than any of the others in that serious, Ultimatum strikes the perfect balance of well executed, breathtaking action sequences and intricate story constructs designed to lend more insight into the character.

That said, it doesn’t seem like Scott Burns the director has really proven himself yet. He’s only directed two films prior to the announced Side Effects, both of which were very small in scale and, it seems, virtually unseen. If The Side Effects were a similarly small scale it wouldn’t be much cause for concern. But with a producer like Lorenzo di Bonaventura on board, odds are we’re no longer talking about a small production. But then again, it’s not unheard of for a great screenwriter to also prove to be a great director. Let’s just hope this is more a Shane Black situation than a David S. Goyer situation.

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