By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 19, 2011 at 9:05AM
Music video and commercials director Mark Romanek has had a bumpy ride in Hollywood of late. After making an impression with his debut feature "One Hour Photo," the director moved on up to the monster movie feature "The Wolfman" but walked away during the film's famously contentious production. Instead, he helmed an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed novel "Never Let Me Go," but unfortunately, it didn't quite become the awards season horse or critical darling many expected, picking up mixed reviews and a muted response at the box office. Then there was his pilot for Fox, "Locke & Key," which was canceled, and despite recent airings at San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic-Con in an attempt to revive interest, that too seems to have fallen by the wayside. But all that said, Romanek is still a respected helmer and over the past few months he's slowly been picking up heat, getting attached to direct a live action "Cinderella" film and being offered the chair for "The Wolverine" (which he turned down). Well, another big project may be coming his way and it will potentially reunite him with a star he was set to work with a few years back.
With Ron Howard exiting the gestating "The Lost Symbol," the third entry in Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series during the summer, the space has been vacant for a while, but Sony appears to have been making some calls. Deadline reports that Romanek leads the pack to take the franchise over, with negotiations set to begin soon. While it might seem like an odd fit for the helmer, it will actually mark a reunion of sorts with Tom Hanks who was set to work with Romanek a few years ago on "A Cold Case" before it feel apart.
As you might recall, the film, penned by Eric Roth, followed the true story of Andy Rosenzweig (the role set for Hanks) who vowed to capture the culprit responsible for the death of his friend in 1970. The killer, Frankie Koehler, was captured in 1997 and was 68 at the time of his arrest, but life rights tied up the movie in knots and essentially, if the movie is to happen, they have to wait for the recently paroled, 80 year old Koehler to die. "We had a life rights issue, where we couldn't get the life rights to a key character," Romanek said last fall. "The killer in the film is being paroled soon. When he dies, we can make the film. We still hope to make that movie one day."
He'll have to keep waiting, but "The Lost Symbol" is a win-win for both director and actor. Romanek gets a big project and a chance again to work with Hanks, while Hanks is assured a quality helmer guiding the ship of a blockbuster movie. Dan Brown himself is rewriting the script that originally had Steven Knight of “Eastern Promises” fame penning the (likely ludicrous) story involving a Freemason conspiracy in Washington D.C. And while we can't say we're looking forward to this, at least with Romanek at the helm, he can hopefully bring some much needed respectability to the series that trades into some wild conspiracies. No word yet on when Sony wants this up and running, but it probably depends on where the studio's pirate pic "A Captain’s Duty" with Hanks and Paul Greengrass stands on their priority list (and how development is moving on the project). But these days, studios prefer guaranteed franchises over adult drama, so we won't be surprised if this leaps ahead.