Summit Relativity Media has been very aggressive with "Hunter Killer," earmarking the picture for a December 2012 release date for months as Phillip Noyce decided whether he was the right man for the director's chair. Though he left the project in August, Relativity continued to show faith in the adaptation of George Wallace's best-seller "Firing Point," bringing on Antoine Fuqua to direct. And with a winter start date being eyed, it looks like they have their leading men.
Gerard Butler is in negotiations to play Captain Joe Glass, the inexperienced submarine commander who ends up forming an alliance with a Navy SEALS team to rescue a kidnapped Russian president. There appears to be two more plum roles yet to be cast, with the Navy SEALS leader and the evil Russian general behind the kidnapping. While we're hoping it's a character actor all-star for the latter, Variety claims the project is looking to involve Sam Worthington as the former.
This is not the first time Fuqua and Butler's paths have crossed, as the two were linked to "Afterburn," a ridiculous-sounding science fiction comic adaptation from superproducer Neal Moritz. Both projects make sense for Butler's career trajectory, as he's been alternating between tough guy action roles and softer, less conventional parts for a while now, and "Hunter Killer" would be the final Butler-starring film of 2012, coming after the romantic comedy "Playing The Field" and the inspirational surfing drama "Of Men And Mavericks."
Worthington just wrapped his own surfing film "Drift" and seems to have a clear schedule for the near future, as he's been linked to a number of science fiction projects that probably wouldn't start shooting anytime soon. He was supposed to feature in "The Last Days Of American Crime" for F. Gary Gray, but it appears that fell through, as it was being shopped at Cannes for a September start date.
It looked like "Hunter Killer," a collaboration between screenwriters Jamie Moss, John Kolvenbach and Arne Schmidt, would have a clearer path to success after "The Lone Ranger" departed from that December 21st release date. But that period remains crowded, as "Hunter Killer" will face off against "The Life Of Pi," Judd Apatow's "This Is Forty" and "World War Z." Did we mention "Django Unchained" sees release four days later? Relativity's an aggressive company, but they aren't stupid, so it wouldn't be surprising for them to either postpone that winter start date and select a 2013 release strategy, or go full force and shoot this quickly.