EXCLUSIVE: Jaume Collet-Serra has been set by Disney to direct Dwayne Johnson in Jungle Cruise. This means that Collet-Serra will withdraw from Suicide Squad 2, the Warner Bros sequel for which he was top choice. After directing a bunch of hit movies that included last summer’s sleeper The Shallows, Collet-Serra has been poised to take that step to star filmmaker, and numerous studios chased his next slot. He decided that the opportunity to originate a new Indiana Jones-like action-adventure franchise in lockstep with one of the most globally bankable film stars — like Gore Verbinski did with Johnny Depp in The Pirates of the Caribbean — was a better opportunity than continuing a storyline originated by another director. Production will begin late next spring.
Plot details are being kept under wraps, but like Pirates, Jungle Cruise is based on the classic theme park attraction that takes guests on a guided tour through the rivers around the world. Star Trek 4‘s J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay wrote the most recent script draft. John Davis and John Fox will produce via Davis Entertainment, Beau Flynn will produce via his FlynnPictureCo. banner, and Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia are producing through Seven Bucks Productions.
Johnson does a lot of business with Warner Bros, and let Disney and that studio work out the Collet-Serra situation. Warner Bros will quickly find another filmmaker to guide Suicide Squad 2, a sought after slot that is the sequel to the film David Ayer wrote and directed based on the DC Comics property. The original film grossed $745 million worldwide and the ensemble that includes Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto are poised to return. Suicide Squad rejoins a number of big pictures with open directing assignments that have been the subject of jockeying among filmmakers, a list that includes the 25th James Bond movie. Deadline revealed last week that ’71 hemer Yann Demange, Blade Runner 2049‘s Denis Villenueve and Hell or High Water‘s David Mackenzie are the front runners for that job.
Collet-Serra, the Spanish director who broke into Hollywood with the genre hit Orphan, has been an under the radar hitmaker, with credits including Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night and The Shallows, the latter of which grossed $119 million worldwide on a $17 million budget. Non-Stop grossed $222 million worldwide for Universal. Collet-Serra most recently wrapped the Liam Neeson starrer The Commuter, which Lionsgate will release January 12. Collet-Serra is separately attached to Annapurna’s Waco, a drama scripted by Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal and Kubo and the Two Strings’ Marc Haimes about the 1993 standoff between the FBI and Texas state law enforcement and the David Koresh-led Branch Davidians that turned the sleepy town of Elk, just outside of Waco, into a battle zone. A 51-day standoff ended with 76 people dead as the cult’s compound was engulfed by a raging fire.
Johnson (with producers Flynn, Garcia, Garcia along with John Rickard) recently wrapped the Brad Peyton-directed Rampage for Warner Bros and New Line, based on the Midway arcade game. That film that reunited Peyton with Johnson after the hit San Andreas. Rampage will be released on April 20, 2018. While Collet-Serra digs into the prep for Jungle Cruise, Johnson starts work in August on the Rawson Thurber-directed Skyscraper for Universal/Legendary. That film will be released July 13, 2018.
Producer Davis releases the Blue Sky Animation/Fox film Ferdinand in December and follows with Game Night for Warner Bros/New Line and the Shane Black-directed The Predator for Fox.
Scott Sheldon will oversee for FlynnPictureCo. Collet-Serra is repped by CAA, Management 360 and Gretchen Bruggeman Rush; Johnson is repped by WME and managed by Dany Garcia of The Garcia Companies.