As fewer movies get made these days, the hardest thing for a director or a writer is just getting hired. Bryan Barber, who went from helming videos for bands like Outkast to making his feature debut with the stars of that group on the 2006 Prohibition Era musical Idlewild, grew so tired of getting close and losing out on big directing jobs that he hunted and secured a film-centric property to improve his odds. After the lengthy courtship of an 86-year old voiceover artist who controlled the rights, Barber will go to his next studio meeting flanked by Gigantor, the giant flying robot star of the 60s Japanese cartoon import with a catchy theme song and a family-friendly premise. Barber controls the movie, merchandise and videogame rights, and will shop a $60 million live action film he calls Transformers meets Goonies. And guess who’ll be attached as director?
Considering that robots remain hot—Hasbro told shareholders this week that another Transformers is in the offing and a Real Steel sequel is also a possibility—Barber figures there should be interest in this story of a 12-year old boy who ends up with the controls to the giant weaponized world-saving robot. Barber hopes to take the same proactive route that allowed Tate Taylor to direct the summer sleeper hit The Help (he optioned the book before it had a publisher) and years ago got Frank Darabont his directing debut on The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont had written a superb script and controlled the book, and refused to step aside even when Rob Reiner and Tom Cruise were ready to re-team after A Few Good Men). (more…)