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We’re all still feeling shockwaves on the news that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the Man of Steel follow-up Batman Vs. Superman. But still it’s business as usual in Hollywood, and as Affleck’s committed to one film, another is falling to the wayside. Deadline reports the newly minted Dark Knight is dropping out of adapting Stephen King’s The Stand, and Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper is stepping in to take his place. This could prove a career-defining moment for the emerging director, as Warner Bros and CBS Films are grooming the pic to be a tent pole release that could be the start of a trilogy franchise. This plan makes considerable sense since the last adaptation of The Stand was a 1994 mini-series that clocked in at 366 minutes.
The 1978 novel is set in a world that has been ravaged by a virus that killed most of the population of the planet. Those that survive this apocalyptic plague begin having visions that drive them to communities established in Nevada and Colorado. But as these groups attempt to rebuild a functioning society, a battle of good versus evil builds.
Warner Bros and CBS Films first announced plans to adapt the lengthy novel into a film back in early 2011. By the following summer, the studios were searching for the right helmer for this property, and initially eyed Harry Potter’s David Yates, who seemed an especially inspired pick as he’s shown a definite skill with building arcs over multiple pictures. Shortly thereafter, Harry Potter scribe Steve Kloves was in talks to draft the screenplay. But by the fall both Yates and Kloves were out of the picture, and Affleck was being handed the gigs of both writer and director. (Yates later said he left the project because he felt the source material lacked the level of spectacle needed to make a successful blockbuster.)
For his part, Affleck seemed a solid choice for The Stand’s writer-director, having previously adapted two crime novels, Dennis Lehane’s Gone Baby Gone and Chuck Hogan’s Prince of Thieves, into two heralded dramas, Gone Baby Gone, and The Town. But it soon appeared Affleck was encountering obstacles in the screenwriting process, as Warner Brothers hired David Kajganich (Blood Creek, The Invasion) to come on board as a writer. Just last fall, Affleck confirmed he’d hit a wall on the project’s development, then no updates followed until today’s, where Cooper’s involvement was revealed.
Cooper will reportedly be re-writing the script, presumably the one Affleck and Kajganich got going. For now it’s unknown when The Stand might roll into production, but in the meantime, you can look out for Cooper’s Crazy Heart follow-up Out of The Furnace. The drama, which stars Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Zoe Saldana, is set to hit theaters on December 6th.