Exclusive: Eclectic filmmaker Neil Burger has gone from pseudo-documentary ("Interview With The Assassin"), to period-drama ("The Illusionist" with Ed Norton), to smaller indie, post-Iraq War film ("The Lucky Ones") and now has landed on a film that combines self-improvement, sci-fi-ish elements and high stakes power in New York, "Limitless."
Made for a meager $26 million dollars -- meager when you consider it's very effects heavy and something like "The Social Network" which had twice less the effects was made for north of $40 million -- we'll assume that the sleek and efficient thriller will quickly throw Burger into the mix, along with names like David Slade and Daniel Espinosa, of up-and-coming directors who will be considered to helm major Hollywood tentpoles. And while Burger confirms that some big offers are coming down the pike -- he wouldn't say which ones -- the writer/director does have a lot of projects to choose from, both self-generated and works for hire.
"There's all kinds of bizarre things out there that I did. I wrote a script for [a remake of] 'The Bride Of Frankenstein' and maybe to direct it as well, but who knows," he said of the still unmade Universal project.
"So I don't know what's next exactly," he added, "But there's a number of things out there that I've written that I'm attached to. Actually, there's one called 'The Criminals' and that's sort of rearing its head suddenly -- there's all these things that go into, 'how do you make a movie these days on a modest budget' -- and there's good buzz about it. And everybody's like 'let's get back on that thing.' "
Also set up at Universal, 'The Criminals,' centers around an imminent terror threat in New York that causes a law-enforcement crackdown, bringing all crime to a standstill. The criminals get organized, pooling their resources together to search for the terrorists so that they themselves can get back to the business of crime. It sounds pretty high concept, but it also feels excitingly original which may be why it's garnering some new attention.
Another potential film is "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH," which he wrote for his kids. "I have two young kids and they were like 'when are you going to make a movie for us?' " he said. "And this came up and its a lovely story, its kind of like 'The Wind and The Willows,' so I wrote it."
And while it's yet to be seen if Burger will get behind the camera for something he can show his kids, we'll head back to our original posit. Does the inventive "Limitless" -- which looks like a mid-sized film that could have been made for $40-$50 million -- open the doors to bigger things?
"Yes it does, and there’s a few things [and] projects like that coming around," Burger said hinting at offers that have come his way. " 'The Criminals' is kind of mid-budget and I’m sure so is 'The Bride,' but then there are some bigger things than that too."
BTW, Burger also scoffs off rumors that he's going to direct an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's "The Big Knockover." The filmmaker also says that he has an idea for a sci-fi film and a western, but as he notes, "You know it’s just such a crazy business right now and it’s hard to make a movie and it doesn’t get distribution or it gets distribution and nobody sees it." He'll surely be picking wisely whatever that project is. More from this interview next week. Starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish, "Limitless" hits theaters March 18. -- Interview conducted by RP.