Plucked from Italian cinema waters by Will Smith to direct 2008's father-son drama, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” director Gabriele Muccino seemed to revel in the Capra-esque themes of that film. Since then, Muccino has honed in on a heightened level of melodrama, one that proved more critically divisive in his follow-up with Smith, “Seven Pounds,” but recently the director proclaimed a change of pace -- both in genre and leading man -- for a future studio effort.
Speaking from the Venice Film Festival this past weekend, Muccino announced he's prepping a project away from drama genre in which he found his footing, and into thriller or science-fiction territory. Tiptoeing around specifics on the project, he nonetheless put forth Keanu Reeves' name as a potential lead as well, but before fingers point to Muccino directing “Bill and Ted 3,” the job for that series' latest installment has already fallen to “Galaxy Quest” director Dean Parisot. Another possibility was the Jon Spaihts-penned sci-fi love story “Passengers,” which Muccino and Reeves were set to tackle back in 2010, but according to Spaihts that film has moved on with a new cast and director in tow.
That leaves a entirely new project for Muccino to lead, and taking a quick glance at the director's recent output, a left-turn should suit him well. While Muccino's original Italian “The Last Kiss” drew favorable international acclaim upon release -- spawning a miserable Zach Braff remake along with piquing Smith's initial interest -- “Seven Pounds” proved to be more notable for its ridiculous jellyfish-cameo ending than anything else. His latest effort, the Gerard Butler family drama “Playing For Keeps,” seems to be aiming for a similar tone that 'Happyness' achieved terrifically well, but we'll be happy to see Muccino stretch his considerable chops a bit.
Prior to that, though, “Playing For Keeps” opens in the U.S. on December 7th. [THR]