Robert Zemeckis has always been an impressively productive filmmaker, and that has continued in recent years -- with The Walk and Allied being released in consecutive years. He isn't slowing down any time soon either, as he already knows exactly what he is making as his next feature film: the action-packed The Women of Marwen starring Steve Carell.
I learned about this news when I sat down for a one-on-one interview with Robert Zemeckis this past weekend during the Los Angeles press day for Allied. After a long discussion about his new movie and his approaches as a filmmaker, I asked if he knew what he was doing next, and without hesitation he named his next project. Said Zemeckis,
Yeah, I'm going to be doing a movie with Steve Carell called The Women of Marwen... It's based on this documentary called Marwencol.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, it's because Robert Zemeckis actually first started developing this film three full years ago in October 2013. While not much was known about the project back then, Zemeckis told me that his film will not be a direct adaptation/remake, and instead will take the core of what made the Marwencol documentary interesting and expand on it. He explained,
I wrote it, and it's a much more... it's a movie. It takes the essence of it, and then just blows it out. It's action packed!
In 2010, filmmaker Jeff Malmberg released the aforementioned Marwencol documentary, which tells the story of a man named Mark Hogancamp. In 2010, Hogancamp had been violently assaulted outside of a local bar, and was left with permanent brain damage and almost complete memory loss following a nine-day coma. HIs family was unable to afford the proper rehab, but this opened Hogancamp up to a different kind of therapy: exploration of his imagination. This included the creation of Marwencol, a 1/6 scale World War II-era Belgian town. While this doesn't seem extraordinary by itself, it was soon found that Hogancamp was including people from his own life as characters within the town.
Robert Zemeckis didn't discover Marwencol in theaters, but instead actually kind of stumbled upon it. One day he found himself watching television and flipping through channels, and much to his surprise wound up finding himself inspired to direct a new film. Said Zemeckis,
I saw that documentary. I was surfing through [the channels] and I landed on PBS, and I came in in the middle of this documentary, and I literally stood up in the room and I said, 'I have to make the movie version of this.'
Even though the exact story portrayed in the documentary won't wind up being the exact plot that is featured in Robert Zemeckis' The Women Of Marwen, watch the trailer for Marwencol below and you'll understand why the brilliant filmmaker would be eager to adapt the story himself:
The Women of Marwen was set up at Universal Pictures when the project was first announced, but we don't know right now when production will start or when the film is aiming for release. Robert Zemeckis was making Allied just a few months after finishing The Walk, so it's possible the gears could start seriously turning very soon -- though the scale Zemeckis suggested in my interview means that it might not quite be ready in time to come out until 2017.