EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has acquired an untitled pitch that Steve Conrad will write and Gore Verbinski will direct. It’s untitled but is being called the Driverless Car Race pic. It’s a large scale action adventure comedy that’s best described as a transcontinental car race with autonomous vehicles. The race originates as a beta test to vet competing software companies that would take the lead on futuristic driver-less vehicles, but it all takes an It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World-like comedic turn when the trial run devolves into major road race after the competitive nature of the start-ups trumps their altruistic intentions. The subjects, normal people who are passengers in these cars, eventually try to take control of the experiment. A simple trek from Paris to Beijing, goes awry as vehicles head off the road and off the grid, getting into all kinds of trouble. The project is on a fast track.

gverbinski“Essentially, we are going to take the funniest comedic actors of this generation and slowly unleash them as we examine the very notion of ‘passengers’ who fundamentally cannot remain passive,” Verbinski said.

Said Conrad: “We want to invert the whole premise of a road trip where the promise has always been, ‘anything can happen’, and say, ‘what if anything can’t happen’? What does that do to the test subject? What are the breaking points?”

sconradVerbinski is convinced this technology is coming, but that humans will never be completely passive, as is the point of this coming technology.

“At a time when we give more and more liberty away for the benefits of technology, there is nothing more primal and direct as this specific physical abdication of control: Removing a steering wheel from the grasp of human being,” he said. “The driver-less car is coming,  It’s right around the bend, and it represents an immediate and relevant opportunity to explore the classic ‘Man against Machine’ genre spliced into a large scale Automotive Rally. Stating the obvious – Things are going to get out of control.”

Conrad and Verbinski worked together on Pyongyang, the North Korea-set project that was to star Steve Carell and was canceled after the Sony hacking scare late last year. Conrad also scripted The Pursuit of Happyness and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty remake. He’s repped by CAA and The Collective, and Verbinski by CAA and Anonymous Content.