Fresh off directing the upcoming “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” Wirkola has now been tapped to rewrite and direct “Afterburn,” an adaptation of a sci-fi comic property with Gerard Butler set to star. Based off the graphic novel by Scott Chitwood and Paul Ens, the film concerns a future where solar flares have laid bare most of civilization, leaving in their wake a dangerous population of mutants and pirates. At the center of the story is a treasure hunter, leading his team into the rubble to search for priceless artifacts underneath, braving the hordes of bounty hunters, gangs, and mutants while doing so. The project was first announced nearly two years ago as a pairing between Butler and Antoine Fuqua, but the pair are instead looking to team up on the White House action flick "Olympus Has Fallen."
Butler's role has not yet been announced, but it's no stretch to imagine the lead treasure hunter as his bread and butter. The actor has also gone sci-fi before, in the Neveldine/Taylor film “Gamer,” but that film made a mess of its compelling concept long before it had a chance to do anything interesting with its lead. Wirkola possesses a good eye for humor and melding genres, but he'll have to work hard to move past the project's already underwhelming stock premise, and craft it into something new. We'll save our judgment for when more details are released, but considering that a film released this past weekend made an inspiring argument for reaching for new ideas in genre, it's disappointing to see that mission chipped away at so soon.
“Afterburn” is being released by Relativity Media, and Neal Moritz, Tobey Maguire, Ryan Kavanaugh, and Toby Jaffe are producing. [THR]