While the disappointing box office of Ron Howard's underrated "Rush" caused a shakeup at production house Exclusive Media, that doesn't mean no one is banking on the director. And Universal has stepped up, putting down $1 million on a spec script by Gary Spinelli (whose only credit is the Dolph Lundgren starring "Stash House") for Howard to helm.
"Mena" will tell the true story of "Barry Seal, a portly pilot who, in the 1980s, was a 300-pound gun runner, and drug trafficker who transported contraband for the CIA and the Medellin cartel. He was eventually shot to death by the latter in Baton Rouge." Sounds like great material, and another fascinating direction for Howard who seems like he's quietly trying to push himself as a filmmaker with his latest choices. No word on when this roll, but it seems pretty early on in development stages. Here's a vintage report from "ABC Nightly News" about Seal's death. [Deadline]
In other directing news: Bill Paxton is getting back behind the camera to direct an adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s "The Bottoms." The story follows "an adolescent boy, his little sister, and their father who stumble across the body of a black woman who has been savagely mutilated and left to die in the bottom of the Sabine River. The townsfolk cover up the crime until the body of a white woman is found in similar circumstances and it falls to the family to unearth the truth." Brent Hanley ("Frailty") penned the script and production will begin later this year. [Deadline]
Rob Cohen, the man behind such fare as "The Fast and the Furious," "xXx" and "Alex Cross" will next direct "Risk." The Eric Harlacher penned story will follow "a brilliant thief as he is released from prison early to execute a nearly impossible art heist." Production begins this summer. [ScreenDaily]
Lastly, Miguel Gomes—the man behind 2012's lovely and enchanting "Tabu"—has set up his next project, "Arabian Nights." Starring Adriano Luz, Carloto Cotta, Rogério Samora, Diogo Dória and Crista Alfaiate, the project is currently in the midst of a year long shoot that "transposes contemporary Portugal - beset by economic crisis - into the structure of the famous collection of folk tales One Thousand and One Nights, also known as Arabian Nights. Stories within the film will be based on real stories taken from news and press in Portugal during the production period." Ambitious stuff, and you can follow the production online right here.