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Drew Goddard's dance card is filling up quickly. After it was announced that he's in talks to take the directing reins on The Sinister Six, many have started to wonder what that might mean for his other projects. With that Spidey spinoff and his involvement with the Daredevil miniseries at Netflix, no one has known what to make of The Martian, his one-time follow-up to Cabin In The Woods. And it's too bad: just as his commitment to that project is shrinking, an A-List talent has boarded.
The Wrap reports that the Fox thriller The Martian has become a priority at the studio, and with Goddard's dance card it looks like they'll have to part ways with him. This comes on the heels of Matt Damon apparently joining the project. His involvement is apparently borne out of his relationship with Elysium producer Simon Kinberg, who is also behind this film. Basically, Damon and Goddard just missed getting on the same elevator together, going in different directions.
Based on a book by Andy Weir, The Martian follows an astronaut who is unpredictably grounded on Mars and must find a way to get back home. Comparisons to Gravity are inevitable, though the studio compares it to Cast Away. Will it be chatty like those movies, or will Damon be silent like the recent shipwreck drama All Is Lost? Probably the former: this is a big studio project, and Damon is a guy with a shaky box office record who needs to be liked again: his supporting role in Monuments Men was widely seen, but before that, Elysium and We Bought A Zoo underperformed, while people generally ignored Promised Land. Since Bourne, other headlining gigs like Green Zone, The Adjustment Bureau and Hereafter didn't go anywhere. He's still a star, and he's still "opening" these movies, but he's not really anyone's favorite movie star. Supporting roles in Interstellar and Zero Theorem are coming up, so clearly he's placed a premium on ensemble acting, diversifying his roles, and working with big time directors.
The piece mentions that Damon will now have a hand in finding Goddard's replacement, and knowing his history, it's likely to be a big name. Maybe Damon's old friend Gus Van Sant returns to the mainstream? Maybe Terry Gilliam plays nice with the studios and gives it a shot? Maybe he can coax Steven Soderbergh out of retirement! All wishful thinking aside, Damon has long juggled the idea of transitioning into directing himself, why not give it a shot here? He would barely have to work with any actors, and he'd command respect from a crew for being one of Hollywood's true nice guys (seriously, speaking candidly, Damon is a damned prince in person). Crazier things have happened.