Joe Johnston Directing Alien Invasion Pic Extinction
Itís been a colorful career for Joe Johnston. The effects artist started out on Star Wars sets, designing some of the most beloved characters in the canon. Branching off into films, heís logged several years in the blockbuster trenches with films like Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, Jumanji and Jurassic Park III. By watching his questionable The Wolfman, one could guess Johnston was running on fumes, with that film bereft of a clear vision or any standout sequences (though when that project was orphaned by Mark Romanek, no one expected any different). But Captain America: The First Avenger proved to be a battery-recharging project for the veteran, helping build the WWII world inhabited by the shield-slinging Avenger.
His next project looks to be another big-time effort, as heís in negotiations to direct Extinction. This high-concept sci-fi thriller is keeping its logline under wraps, but what is being revealed is that it involves a man trying to save his family during an alien invasion. The hope is thereís more than that, but the pretty cut-and-dried title sort of suggests there might not be. Writer Spenser Cohen doesnít have much experience, penning the TV movie Macklemoreís Big Surprise, so if this is his big break, itís likely the material has some sort of fresh spin.
Johnstonís next film, Not Safe For Work, is currently awaiting release. The story involves a killer let loose inside an office and... oh, haha -- now the title makes sense, you funny guys. Max Minghella stars in that one, as does Captain America actor J.J. Field. It's a low-budget effort from Jason Blumís prolific Blumhouse. They are the folks responsible for Paranormal Activity and The Purge, but this one is going straight to VOD. Theyíre also responsible for Area 51, Oren Peliís as-yet-unreleased follow-up to the original Paranormal Activity that feels like itís been in-the-works forever.
Johnston is one of the many filmmakers so closely linked to Star Wars that it seemed like a no-brainer that he would be attached to one of the extended-universe offerings beyond Star Wars: Episode 7. Signing on to a project with this title suggests itís going to take up a lot of Johnstonís time, and the guy who basically invented Boba Fett would probably want a bit of a head start if heís going to jump into that world. Of course, we have almost no pieces in place for Episode 7, so you wonder if maybe they are jumping the gun on further adventures if they canít even tie down Johnston, an obvious candidate for Disneyís Lucasfilms experiment, maybe the best-qualified in the entire industry. Of course, those films might just be sketches on the side of dinner napkins by now, and not fully-realized projects, but soon, Disneyís going to give off the impression of a child staying up late and desperately trying to finish their homework before the due date.
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