Collateral Beauty has had a hell of a time trying to get itself made into a film, due to a huge shakeup with its leading actors, and the initial director of the project leaving just as quickly. Not all hope is lost though, as David Frankel might find himself as the skipper of a ship just trying to make it to port.
Entertainment Weekly released the news that the director of such films as Marley And Me and The Devil Wears Prada is in the beginnings of negotiations to direct the Will Smith drama. Not much is known about the film's plot, except that Smith will play a depressed ad executive whose co-workers try to cheer him up, only to find their efforts met with "unexpected results." Apparently these results are so unexpected that we have no clue what sort of film will be surrounding said consequences. Frankel is replacing Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who departed the project as of last month.
With Frankel's experience ranging from the puffy, feel-good comedy of his previous films, to a couple episodes of HBO's mirror images of decadence, Entourage and Sex And The City, his hiring on the project really doesn't tell us what to expect. One one hand, if David Frankel's resume means that this film is going to be a welcome return to form, we could be seeing more of a dramedy than a full blown drama on our hands. This would make Will Smith's pinch hitting casting all the more sensible, as the man has had a lot of experience in such a genre.
However something about the story synopsis has us thinking otherwise. Maybe these "unexpected results" are a full blown psychotic break. Smith's character may have lost a wife, and his co-workers try to set him up with someone who just might look like his wife. His infatuation could spill out of his psyche, much like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo, and his obsession could turn to something much more sinister. With a title like Collateral Beauty, you have to admit that either possibility is valid – and screenwriter Allen Loeb's resume also casts an equally ambiguous shade on the project's tenor.
No matter what direction Collateral Beauty takes with its story, it still needs a director to get it off of the bench and into the game. David Frankel's potential hiring might be the film's best bet of staying alive, especially if the forces behind the film want to prevent Will Smith from deciding to follow in previous lead actor Hugh Jackman's footsteps and mosey back into the world of comics. Though we'd like to think that the powers that be have a short list of candidates they're evaluating in the case of Frankel's potential rejection.
We may not know how much money is riding on this film, but to be attracting the likes of Jackman, Smith, and fellow would-be co-star Rooney Mara, we're willing to bet it's a moderate to slightly high figure. That's not the sort of money to be playing around with lightly, so we expect a decision on Collateral Beauty's director in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can see Will Smith in Concussion, which is releasing this Christmas.