EXCLUSIVE: It has been a decade since Robert Zemeckis last directed a live action film, the classic Cast Away. It has been 25 years since he launched the time travel trilogy Back to the Future. I’m told that Zemeckis is plotting a return to both folds at Warner Bros, where he is at the center of a deal for the time travel pitch Timeless. It’s a big tent pole picture that will be written by Mike Thompson. Zemeckis and his ImageMovers will produce. Deal is mid six-figures.
Zemeckis and ImageMovers have been cozy-ing up with Warner Bros since Disney shuttered its Marin County animation facility ImageMovers Digital earlier this year. Even though Zemeckis once seemed comfortable directing pictures exclusively in the 3D performance capture process he pioneered in Polar Express, Beowulf, A Christmas Carol and the upcoming Beatles pic Yellow Submarine, Zemeckis has lately been rumored to be kicking the tires on such live action projects as Superman.
Since we’re in time travel mode, Thompson is best remembered for teaming with Brandon Camp and the spectacular deal made for their script Steinbeck’s Point of View. Warner Bros and the late Steve Reuther’s Bel Air paid the writers $700,000 against $1.5 million, with Camp to direct and Thompson to produce. When Tom Cruise wanted to star, they were paid a $2 million against $4 million deal to step aside, along with bonuses and other blind commitments that had them potentially poised to earn more than $8 million. Of course, Cruise then dropped out, the picture never happened, and they settled on the money. The team split last year and since then Thompson has scripted Oh Happy Day for Johnny Depp at Warner Bros, and he did a rewrite of The Last Summer of You and Me for Warner Bros and producer Denise DiNovi. He’s repped at ICM and Madhouse Entertainment, Zemeckis by CAA.
As for the prospect of Zemeckis returning to the live action fold: if he’s got another Cast Away or Forrest Gump left in him, welcome back Z.