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Big-budget supernatural thrillers are not films that Hollywood handles with any sort of consistency, and it’s a wonder they continue doing it. But money is money, and director D.J. Caruso will head back to that style of flashy filmmaking following a dip into calmer waters with 2013’s YA novel adaptation Standing Up.
Caruso has signed on to helm the long-in-development thriller Selling Time for 20th Century Fox. This iteration of the film, like many of them, is being prepped in order to bring Will Smith to the leading role, though Smith is being cagey about going into negotiations. Maybe he saw After Earth, too. Or didn’t see it; I can’t figure out which one is the more snarky comment.
Smith has been re-attached to the film for the last couple of months, once the film went to Fox and found a new screenwriter in former DreamWorks Television president Dan McDermott. It’s a toss-up as to whether or not the addition of Caruso will sway Smith toward the project. The director isn’t a guy who often brings in the big bucks, having peaked with 2008’s $101 million-earner Eagle Eye, but Smith could almost definitely vault him up into the upper echelon, assuming he delivers a worthy final product.
According to Deadline, this high-concept tale involves a process where people can sell chunks of time out of their life in order to go back in time, in a way. Should he get involved, Smith would play a man who keeps selling bits of his life to relive his worst day, to try and change the outcome of a tragedy that occurred. If it happens to involve a bomb on a train, I think we’ll know what to expect.
This project has been around for over a decade, when McDermott first sold it as a spec script to Fox 2000 back in 2001. It’s seen everyone from Spike Lee to Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes reboot) come aboard in one capacity or another, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Caruso actually sticks it out.
He’s supposed to have the haunted house thriller The Disappointments Room going into production this year, with Kate Beckinsale starring, so who knows when Selling Time would even kick into gear. On Smith’s end, he’s finished with the dark fantasy Winter’s Tale and the comedy Focus, and only has the military drama The American Can waiting in the pipeline, beyond the handful of potential sequels to films that may or may not ever happen.
Caruso’s best film to me was 2002’s crime mysteryThe Salton Sea, which Selling Time will almost definitely be nothing like. So let’s relive it while there’s still time.