Around a year ago I was forcefully indignant over the news that Steven Spielberg had decided to make an explosions heavy, brainless, post-Transformers machine vs. humans summer spectacle Robopocalypse instead of his forever promised biopic of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. But one month later all was forgiven when Spielberg finally manned up and announced to the world he was going to make Lincoln, surprisingly (but rather excitedly) with Daniel Day-Lewis instead of Liam Neeson and that it would film in the fall of 2011.
Fast forward to Sept 2012 and with Lincoln now only months away from filming with the likes of Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Sally Field, John Hawkes and Hal Holbrook supporting, I no longer have any grievance with the idea that ‘the beard’ is still planning on making his mass crowd-pleasing epic. We are finally getting Lincoln, Spielberg can pretty much play with any big-budget toys he wants after that, we don’t really care.
Robopocalypse is based on Daniel H. Wilson’s recently published novel that Drew Goddard (‘Cloverfield’) has drafted depicting the oft-told story of what happens when robots wage a war against humans, obviously. I would like to think Spielberg will go a new direction with this, do a ‘Close Encounters’-style genre left turn than either a Terminator or Transformers rip-off, but the Spielberg of now is all about the merchandise deals, the franchises and what the kids can eat up.
Deadline reports that financing for the film has been found from both DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox who are splitting the epic costs, with Disney planning to distribute in the U.S. on July 4th, 2013 and Fox overseas in the same summer. That’s big corporations all with a vested interest in what Spielberg has promised in return but in an era when money is tight and studio’s aren’t willing to be the blank cheque payrolls for A-list directors they have been in the past (see Universal and ask Ron Howard and Guillermo del Toro where The Dark Tower and At The Mountains of Madness are), expect to see more of this duel or even triple sharing of the risk in the future.
Spielberg then returns to the formula of choosing projects that he seemed so comfortable with towards the end of the last decade where he would deliver an Awards season movie (The Terminal) then a blockbuster (War of the Worlds), another Oscar baiting picture (Munich) and then another popcorn vehicle (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and with The War Horse and Tintin his two 2011 efforts, and then Lincoln for fall 2012 and Robocaplyse likely 2013 – Spielberg seems fairly comfortably set in his ways right now.
So this is the big vision Spielberg and hopefully the one who can tap into the creative ideas that made Minority Report flourish, and not the one which became a little too smaller-scaled and withdrawn like War of the Words (as much as I enjoyed that movie… it didn’t at all live up to the title or the H.G. Wells novel).
Don’t know about you but it’s about time Spielberg showed Michael Bay how robot destruction is really done…
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