Gabriele Muccino was a filmmaker plucked out of relative obscurity to showcase Will Smith as a serious dramatic actor. The director came to America and spotlighted Smith in The Pursuit Of Happyness and Seven Pounds before they parted ways. Now that Muccino is working on his own, he's expanding into other genres. But maybe for his latest, Near Death, he should give the Fresh Prince a call once more.
Muccino is set to direct the sci-fi thriller Near Death, according to Variety. This thriller revolves around a man who survives a near-death experience but becomes unhinged in his daily life. Soon, he starts to be able to predict the future, leading to his wife becoming concerned about his health and sanity. But as more and more predictions come true, she soon unravels an elaborate mystery and a conspiracy that reaches far-up, one that may be tied to her husband's declining mental health. Good premise!
Casting will begin this fall, so it's likely this is meant for an early 2015 shoot. The script is from Carter Blanchard, who oddly enough is also re-writing the Independence Day sequel. Connect the dots here: is Blanchard a guy being brought onto projects to convince Will Smith to join them? Smith's got his own team of writers, and his infamous tinkering leads to projects tailored specifically to his interests. When he has to trust an unfamiliar writer, it doesn't go well – see the Django Unchained issue , where he basically wouldn't let Quentin Tarantino define his own character's fate. Muccino owes his career to Smith, but The Pursuit Of Happyness also got Smith an Oscar nomination. Both of them can forget Seven Pounds existed, right?
(But I can't).
(Seriously, what were you thinking?)
How well does Near Death fit the Will Smith playbook? Well, it's sci-fi (Independence Day) and it deals with an omniscient character (Men In Black) who has to fight a conspiracy controlled by men in power (Enemy Of The State). Given the title, he's also somewhat unkillable (Hancock), after having been greatly altered by a violent, traumatic experience (I, Robot). This thing has Will Smith written all over it!
Smith's currently working on an untitled NFL concussions movie, and while that shoots during the fourth quarter this year, he could be freed up after that. There's a chance he opts for one of his percolating sequels like Bad Boys 3 or Hancock 2 but there's really no reason to not re-team with Muccino, who is currently finishing Fathers And Daughters with Russell Crowe. Voltage Films is handling the film, and a major studio will likely be announced soon.