EXCLUSIVE: Ruben Fleischer has been set by Lionsgate to direct Chris Evans in Jekyll, the feature based on the 2007 BBC One series. Evans came attached in July, to play the lead role of Tom Jackman. This sets up a couple of potential competitive situations, one of them involving the rival project at Universal that is being built around Russell Crowe. The other: which movie will Fleischer next direct? After all, he’s in the middle of Sony’s effort to sequelize Zombieland, which has now become a cult classic that launched not only Fleischer but Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin, and gave a second wind to Woody Harrelson. As a result, all of those stars are more expensive, and Sony is working on the deals. The movie wasn’t a blockbuster — $102 million WW on a $23 million budget — but it is the kind of clever film that has aged favorably and the post apocalyptic world can be expanded.
Marc Platt is producing with Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Kleeman, through through their A Very Good Production banner, and scribe team Anthony Bagarozzi & Charles Mondry have written a script based on the Steven Moffat-scripted six-episode miniseries. Bagarozzi & Mondry teamed on the Shane Black-directed The Nice Guys and Doc Savage, as well as the remake of Death Note. The BBC miniseries wasn’t a straight adaptation of the Stevenson novella; rather, the lit classic was a jumping-off point for a sequel. In the miniseries, James Nesbitt played Jackman, a modern-day descendant of Jekyll who is beginning to exhibit the trademark split personality. The father and husband abandons his family, without explaining why, and lives in a fortified basement with a psychiatric nurse as his ally. When they strap the doctor to a metal chair, she watches him transform into an alter ego who rages, shows heightened strength and speed and can be a charming, flirtatious scoundrel as well. The two personalities try to co-exist, even though one doesn’t remember what the other does while in control of the body. They use a microcassette to leave messages for each other. Unable to stay away from the family he left behind for their own safety, he visits his wife, Hyde assumes control and learns about them, and things grow very complicated.
Fleischer will work with the scribes, and some of the timing here depends on Evans’ duties as Captain America in the back to back sequels to The Avengers which Joe and Anthony Russo are directing. As for Universal, it too is developing a film based on the Robert Louis Stevenson public-domain novel about the doctor with the split personality. Crowe will appear first in The Mummy opposite Tom Cruise and presumably as a stand-alone in a later film.
CAA, Management 360 and attorney Warren Dern rep Fleischer.