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In the new comedy Game Night, Jason Bateman is very much front and center. In the large ensemble, he and Rachel McAdams are really the co-leads of the story -- navigating the arc that has the most significant impact on the larger plot -- and he even has a producer credit for his work getting the movie made. Clearly the actor-cum-filmmaker as heavily involved in the production, but it may surprise you to learn that he was actually going to take the helm of the project himself. He recently told me,
Well, the thing that drew me to it was really the idea of, I had done these two sort of festival films as a director, and I wanted to direct something that was a lot more of a commercial sort of effort. And so we developed it for a few years, and we kept trying different drafts, different scripts, different writers, and we felt like we got it to a place where John and Johnathan, they came in and they did their great thing, that it would kind of finish it all up. They wanted to keep on directing, and so I said, 'Well, I'll just step off as a director and you guys do it! I'll just be actor and producer.' Luckily they said yes to that, because I think they did a great job.
Jason Bateman told me about nearly directing Game Night himself when I had the opportunity to sit down with him earlier this month during the new movie's Los Angeles press junket. Having interviewed directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley earlier in the day, I knew going into the conversation that Batman had a long history with the project, but it was only while actually talking with him that I learned about his initial aspirations with the material. He wanted to make it as his first big studio comedy, but through the development process realized that the best course of action was for him to ultimately step out of the director's chair and let Goldstein and Daley take over.
As Jason Bateman alluded to, Game Night would have been his third feature film effort as a director - having previously made 2013's Bad Words and 2015's The Family Fang. According to our news archives, he first became involved with Game Night just a month before the release of the former, though at the time the trades apparently didn't know he was eyeing the helm of the comedy. Fortunately, it sounds like stepping away from that position was part of a mutual decision -- and it probably helped that Bateman previously worked with Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley in the making of the hit film Horrible Bosses (which the duo co-wrote).
I specifically followed-up with Jason Bateman about the fact that he had previously worked with Goldstein and Daley, and he explained why he feels they were the right choice for Game Night at the end of the day:
This concept is very clear about what it is, and the film wants to be a certain thing, and those guys are fantastic at delivering that sort of ensemble comedy, and they're just so good at that, it was like, 'If they're going to say yes to writing it, then I'll get out of the way as a director.'
Game Night marks the second directorial effort from Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (the first being 2015's Vacation reboot), and we'll just have to wait and see what Jason Bateman decides to make when the next studio comedy opportunity comes around. In the meantime, you'll be able to see him back up on the big screen this Friday, along with Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons, Chelsea Peretti, and Kyle Chandler.