By Catherine Scott | The Playlist May 16, 2011 at 3:15AM
A film that made a splash at Sundance is now getting its due at Cannes, with "Take Shelter," the widely-praised sophomore feature from "Shotgun Stories" director Jeff Nichols, aired as part of the Critic's Week strand of the festival. And hot on its heels, the LA Times reports that the helmer is working on a new project, entitled "Mud." The paper's source indicates that Aaron Ryder, a producer of "Memento," will also be involved as the film moves forward. Sarah Green, a long-time producer of Terrence Malick's movies, including "The Tree of Life," will also produce.
According to this source, but not verified by Ryder because talks are still ongoing, Chris Pine is close to joining as the film's lead. It marks another smart choice for the actor, who, while he hasn't immediately capitalized on the success of "Star Trek," also hasn't taken the tentpole-only route of some of his contemporaries, mixing up actioners like "Unstoppable" and "This Means War" with more dramatic roles, like the upcoming drama "Welcome to People," alongside Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Wilde.
Ryder described the film as reminiscent of "Stand By Me," about two 14-year-old boys who find an adult fugitive and must help him escape off an island in the Mississippi. Pine would play Mud, the fugitive, a character with seemingly quite a bit of depth, "a dangerous criminal and a character worthy of redemption." There was no indication by the source of how far along the story was, whether still in the pitch stage or if a full screenplay had been written -- Pine is committed to the "Star Trek" sequel later in the year, so the film will have to work around that schedule. Nichols did write 'Shelter,' a story about a family whose father becomes obsessed with the apocalypse, so he'll probably lend his screenwriting talents to "Mud" as well.
The project comes from the company FilmNation, run by Glen Basner. The company hopes to move from selling distribution rights -- they just sold international rights for Rian Johnson's "Looper" and John Hillcoat's "The Wettest County in the World" -- to financing and producing their own films with "Mud." "We're not interested in re-creating the movies from the past," Basner said. "We want to create new ones for the future." Basner also indicated that FilmNation would use smaller budgets, steering away from studio material.