Deep Impact/Armaggedon. Antz/A Bug’s Life. The Truman Show/Ed TV. The Illusionist/The Prestige. Prefontaine/Without Limits. Infamous/Capote. Madagascar/The Wild. Dante’s Peak/Volcano. Tombstone/Wyatt Earp. No Strings Attached/Friends With Benefits. Chasing Liberty/First Daughter. Paul Blart: Mall Cop/Observe and Report. Mirror Mirror/Snow White and the Huntsman.
Notice a trend there? Everyone kinda know that this happens, but it’s not new, and it wont stop. Hollywood on a regular basis, greenlights two films with pretty much the same plot or very similar plots and then rival studios race to get their film out first and claim to be the better of the two. No matter how the releases work out, one is typically deemed the box office/critical victor, while the other is the dud.
It’s going to happen again, but this time to Moby Dick.
Right now Universal Studios, fresh off an odd few months with only The Lorax and Snow White as films to hang their hats on, have optioned a new Moby Dick film to be written by the guy who wrote Contraband. I saw Contraband on a flight two months ago. It’s terrible, but kinda fun. However, Moby Dick is tentpole territory, not, terrible but kinda fun territory. Here is what this Moby Dick film feels it has going for it:
1) The guy who wrote Contraband is writing it. Is that really a plus?
2) It is being prepped to be directed by Timur Bekmambetov. The guy who made Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. One of those films I was underwhelmed by, and the other is just going to be flat out terrible. It seems like this Moby Dick is going for style over substance and that’s not something I like in my classics.
The other Moby Dick film is going to be based on the book In The Heart of the Sea, which is about the true events that inspired the fictional book Moby Dick. Here is what this Moby Dick film will have going for it:
1) It gets to have really inspiring music from James Newton Howard in it’s trailer and it gets to say something like “The true story that inspired the legend” or something like that in it’s trailer and poster.
2) Charles Leavitt wrote the screenplay. While he did write K-Pax (awful film), he’s also written The Express (inspiring racial sports drama), and Blood Diamond, which was better than it had any right to be. He appears more likely to have the chops to adapt a story like this.
3) Chris Hemsworth has signed on. Hemsworth has that typically Austrailian balance of being hunky as the day is long (gayest thing I ever wrote alert!) and he can actually act. So putting him in a movie where he’s fighting mother nature and being all manly, but it’s literary? This smells like a success. He was great as The Huntsman, owns Thor, and built up the emotional resonance in a film like Star Trek in ten minutes in a way most actors can’t in whole films.
My initial prediction is that should both films get made, In The Heart of the Sea will be the winner and possible oscarbait, while Moby Dick proper, will be the loser. They are still a ways away, but I’m calling this one early.