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'Immortals' Helmer Tarsem Singh To Direct Ex-Guillermo Del Toro Project 'Killing On Carnival Row'

by Oliver Lyttelton
November 17, 2011 6:48 PM
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Tarsem Killing On Carnival Row

Tarsem, or to give him his full name (the director seems to have abandoned his mononame pretensions of late), Tarsem Singh, has had a mixed week. On the plus side, his latest film, swords & sorcery actioner "Immortals," opened to a healthy box office haul of $32 million -- despite some poisonous reviews -- exceeding most expectations, and likely planting the director firmly on the A-list. On the minus, the trailer for his next film, Snow White tale "Mirror Mirror," debuted to almost universal derision, seeming to immediately undo any suggestion that the commercials veteran, who won acclaim with passion project "The Fall," might become the next Zack Snyder. Or even the next Dominic Sena.

But it seems like the director was smart enough to line up a new project sharpish. Despite him saying only a few days ago that he wanted his next film to be a minimalist, "Knife in the Water"-style two-or-three-hander, Deadline reports that the director is now attached to the fantasy noir "Killing on Carnival Row," from veteran producers Arnold & Anne Kopelson ("Se7en").

The script (which we called a great lost project earlier in the year), is set in a steampunk fantasy city where a detective is hunting for a vampiric serial killer that's killing off fairies, was the great calling card of Travis Beacham, who's since become one of the hottest writers around, penning "Clash of the Titans," Joseph Kosinski's mooted "The Black Hole" remake, and, most famously, Guillermo Del Toro's giant monster movie "Pacific Rim," which just started filming. Indeed, Del Toro was once attached to direct the project when it was set up at New Line, while Neil Jordan came on after him, with the idea that he would rewrite the script and direct, but nothing ever came of it. 

The film's no longer at New Line, but Kopelson tells Deadline that he's in talks with an unnamed studio, with the intention that filming would start on the project next June in New Orleans. Tarsem's apparently been courted for a number of other projects, including a "Marco Polo" film, but this seems to have become the priority. And we have mixed feelings about that; he's undoubtedly a visual stylist who could provide a distinctive spin on Beacham's fantasy world, but he's also seemed mostly incapable of injecting anything like substance into his projects so far, which would only exacerbate the script's flaws. Casting is apparently underway, so more news should be forthcoming soon.

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  • Chris J. | November 18, 2011 12:43 PMReply

    "but he's also seemed mostly incapable of injecting anything like substance into his projects so far"

    Wow! Did we miss "The Fall"? An amazing marriage of style and substance, a beautifully moving film filled full of painterly visuals and...oh my goodness fantastic character development that moved the plot forward and made the visuals matter. I can't speak for "Immortals" yet, but if it's anything like "The Fall" I'm sure I will be more than happy. And as far as the comparison between Snyder and Tarsem, Snyder makes crap films filled full of popcorn visuals, when he did attempt anything on the same level of creativity of Tarsem, a la "Sucker Punch" he failed miserably. Tarsem's films are visually creative, even when flawed and that alone makes them INTERESTING to watch! I still love "The Cell" even though I recognize that it's a flawed film in many areas because it does have characters, it has a story, and the visuals are creatively artistic instead of stupidly over-the-top and unnecessary like in too many films these days.

  • mattbless | November 18, 2011 2:41 AMReply

    I think Mirror, Mirror will do just fine in BO. He said it was sickeningly kiddie. The trailer also makes it clear that its targeting family audience.

  • Glass | November 18, 2011 12:32 AMReply

    "set in a steampunk fantasy city where a detective is hunting for a vampiric serial killer that's killing off fairies" ... Dear God, that combination of adjectives and nouns just made me sleepy. It'd take great execution for me to see this.

  • Quel | November 17, 2011 7:51 PMReply

    Surely, not becoming the next Zack Snyder is a good thing. Read the Killing on Carnival Row script ages ago and wondered who else could do it once Del Toro was no longer attached. Tarsem is a great match. Immortals was gorgeous and I'm looking forward to Mirror, Mirror. Fassbender for Philostrate suggestion from the poster below is a good casting idea.

  • KT | November 17, 2011 7:05 PMReply

    I really liked the script. Hopefully he does it some kind of justice.

    ... Fassbender for Philostrate?

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