One of the dozens of projects on Will Smith's future slate... a film initially announced 4 years ago, in May 2009, when Sony Pictures and Smith's Overbrook Entertainment picked up the movie rights to the story of an ex-Marine who orchestrated the rescue of hundreds of his neighbors during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
John Lee Hancock was to write and direct the project, titled The American Can.
Standing at 6-ft-seven and 260 pounds, John Keller, the ex-Marine, lived in a five-story apartment building; and after chasing some looters, emerged as the man in charge of the 244 residents, many of them elderly or handicapped.
For five days, Keller, dubbed the "Can Man," kept the building, isolated by 11 feet of water, safe from the chaos raging around the city. He also directed the eventual rescue operation from the building's roof.
At the time of the initial announcement, I fully expected Will Smith to star in the film, although it wasn't stated.
2 years later, in 2011, it was reported that Big Willie would instead be working behind the camera this time around, with an offer to Denzel Washington to star instead.
At the time, I wondered about that choice, since the lead character would have be aged to accommodate Denzel, who's in his 50s (Keller is closer to Will Smith's age); also, Denzel isn't 6-ft-7 and 260 pounds, but I assumed that they'd make changes to the script to accommodate Denzel.
Skip ahead another 2 years to today, to the announcement by Deadline that Will Smith is back in the lead role, and is now courting Ed Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) to direct the film, from a script penned by both John Lee Hancock and a name I'm hearing attached to this project for the first time, Adetoro Makinde - a multi-hyphenate (actor, director, writer, producer, casting director, more) who co-produced Dennis Dortch's feature film debut, A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy.
She's also listed as producer on The American Can.
In addition to that project, Deadline mentions that Will Smith is also eyeing a thriller titled The Accountant, which was once set up at Warner Bros for Mel Gibson to direct.
The project is now said to be set up at Media Rights Capital with Sony Pictures, with Smith potentially starring in the film as a government accountant who doubles as an assassin.
Mel Gibson is no longer involved, however.
So with these 2 projects, as well as the con man-centered Focus (announced yesterday), it looks like Will is getting back into the acting game, so to speak, after taking a 4 year break since Seven Pounds was released in 2008 (MIB3 was released last summer), opting to instead produce projects for others, including his children.