By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 17, 2011 at 6:48PM
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.