{TB EXCLUSIVE} J.J. Abrams/Billy Ray Project Lands Title, Logline, And A Fast-Track



Several years ago the industry reported on an “Untitled J.J. Abrams/Billy Ray Project” that was being developed at with Bad Robot, and the internet went abuzz with excitement. After all, these two amazingly talented men had already individually brought us, “Star Trek,” “Cloverfield,” “Mission: Impossible III” and “Source Code.” So we all wanted to know what they could do when they teamed up.

But as the years passed and these two men continued to work on different mega projects that would eclipse something “Untitled” (Abrams had “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Almost Human,” “Revolution,” and “Star Wars” while Ray did “Captain Phillips,” and “The Hunger Games” just to name a few) this project fell off the radar. That is, until now. I have recently received the title and logline for this project:

Logline: A group of American soldiers work together on D-Day to overcome the Nazis and their new secret weapon – a tar like serum that turns those injected with it into zombies.

How awesome does that sound? If this doesn’t get assess in the seats, I don’t know what will. Not only has the title and logline come out, but it looks like Paramount is pushing to fast-track the project now that there is a story/ and the next step in the process is finding a director worthy of such a picture.

If Abrams is not going to be helming this project (which with his schedule is most likely), here is my fanboy wish list (this is COMPLETE conjecture and are simply directors I think could kill this project but in reality will never attach or have the slimmest of chances) in no specific order:

  • Zach Snider – The guy has a great eye for visuals and he has already proven that he can handle a zombie tale with the remake of “Dawn of The Dead.” Working from Ray’s , I think he could be a home run for the project, but with “Batman/Superman” on the horizon I don’t think he will be doing much else any time soon.
  • Edgar Wright – Another guy with a zombie past with “Shaun of the Dead,” he could add an element of humor to the project as well as visuals and directing style that make his films so much fun.
  • Joss Whedon – Just because I want him to direct every movie to be made from here to the end of my life. It’s a shame he will be too busy ruling the Marvel universe to even think about a project like this.
  • Steven Spielberg – Any movie that involves WWII should have Spielberg involved. Fact. Even if zombies are present. If the man can make me believe that dinosaurs could come to life on an island, he can make me believe that zombies fought in WWII.
  • Tommy Wirkola – My wild card. The man already has a history with Nazi zombies with “Dead Snow,” (and is currently working on “Dead Snow 2”) and although “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” didn’t do great, I thought it was a ton of fun, and was directed well… for what it was. This film could be in the same vein, and with Abrams watching over the could be amazing. I just don’t think he has done anything finically successful enough to get him the reins to this film.
  • Danny Boyle – He makes the wish list because he hasn’t done a horror film since “28 Days Later.” I don’t see him stepping into that arena again, but he did “28 Days Later”… and he’s Danny Boyle.

And here is a list of directors I think might actually have a chance at getting on board the project due to their skills as a director, their relationships with Paramount and/or Bad Robot, and their being at least slightly free in regards to directing (again, this is COMPLETE conjecture and in no specific order):

  • Matt Reeves – Having already handled one of Abrams’ scripts, “Cloverfield” masterfully, Reeves has a history with Bad Robot as well as a budding CV including “Let Me In,” and the upcoming “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” that shows he could handle a project of this magnitude. He has several films that he has attached himself to as director, but all of them seem to be early in the process at this time as he finishes up the “Apes” sequel.
  • Paul Greengrass – My wildcard of this group. Greengrass did an amazing with his “Bourne” films, showing that he can handle the action aspect of any movie. Then with projects like “United 93” and “Captain Phillips” his dramatic abilities cannot be called into question either. What makes him the wildcard is that he has never done the fantasy/horror element that would be required to do a film with zombies in it, so I don’t think he is first on the list for this . Even so, I think he could bring something very special to the table, as well as a great cast. He currently has a handful of projects in as director, but nothing that couldn’t take a back seat to a film like this.
  • Sam Raimi – Another wildcard, but how could I leave out the master of the weird horror, and the man responsible for “Drag Me To Hell,” “Evil Dead,” and the first three “Spider-Man” films. He has plenty of experience with big action, big budgets, and big geysers of blood, everything this movie should have, and needs. Raimi probably belongs on the list above, however even though he is keeping very busy as a , his director’s chair is pretty empty and this could be a fantastic project for his unique perspective.
  • John Dahl – Having done “Joy Ride” with Bad Robot and his directing work with television shows such as “Dexter,” “Hannibal,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Bridge,” “Justified,” and “The Americans” Dahl has all the gore and action experience he needs for this film.  He has a pretty open dance card when it comes to features and it may be time to give the director of “Rounders” another shot at the big screen.
  • Christopher Landon – With more than enough success through the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, Landon has made Paramount a very happy camper. Speaking of camper, he is now working on “Scouts Vs. Zombies” which could make “Overlord” a great follow up piece should that film be a success.

Who do you think could handle this project?



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