Shawn Levy's name might not pop into your head when you think of the most successful directors of recent years, but his track record speaks for itself. While even Levy admits earlier projects like “Pink Panther” and “Cheaper by the Dozen” had their faults, his back catalogue of box offices successes is almost unmatched in the current crop of directors. He's currently riding off three smash hits in a row, with the "Night At The Museum" films and last year's "Date Night." His ability to turn out engaging, popcorn entertainment that is a cut above the usual standard is the reason why Levy seems to be linked to just about every project under the sun. And while he can't direct everything, he continues to develop projects that interest him under his production banner 21 Laps Entertainment. After discussing "Fantastic Voyage" and the "Real Steel" sequel last week, The Playlist caught up with Levy again this week to discuss a few more projects he has in the pipeline.
The first and potentially most intriguing is “Frankenstein,” a project even Levy admits he didn’t see himself directing at first. “When they told me, ‘We’re sending you “Frankenstein” I was like, ‘What, I mean I want to broaden, but are we kidding?’ Levy said. “And then I read it. This kid, Max Landis, 26, son of John is a mad, crazy, brilliant young man. He wrote this. It’s about the friendship and betrayals that go on between a young Victor Frankenstein who is just beginning to devise the science that will make him famous, and his friend/assistant/minion Igor. It’s a period piece, it’s still very much a monster movie. It’s moody as hell and dark as hell but really delves into these themes of creationism and monstrosity in so far as it’s played out between these two young men in their 20s.”
Levy says rumors that the tale is from Igor’s perspective are not completely unfounded. “That was on the internet... I guess that’s true. I would say it’s the shared perspective of Victor and Igor. But yeah, you know what, if it’s slightly more one over the other I’d say that’s true, that’s fair.” If everything works out to plan, Levy told us that he could be shooting this movie as soon as next spring (provided "Fantastic Voyage" doesn't leapfrog the project), but as always, there are other movies also vying for his attention.
One of them is a mysterious action project announced last winter penned by “Lost” writer Carlton Cuse that would star Hugh Jackman, but Levy says he’s still sworn to secrecy. “Carlton said, ‘If I’ve learned one thing in six years on ‘Lost,’ you keep your fucking mouth shut. You give information on a piecemeal basis," the director explained. "So per Carlton, I’m under a gag order. But that movie is extremely cool. It’s not in any way a knock off of ‘Lost’ but it has all the imagination that Carlton brings. Hugh loved it, I loved it and we were like, ‘Okay, let’s go.’”
But one project above all others that has generated the most ink over the past couple years, is the long-discussed “Hardy Men.” The movie that is being developed as a vehicle for Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller, would center on the beloved Hardy Boys who are now all grown up, and it's still a project he hopes to make. “My long-gestating tragedy,” Levy laughs. “There’s no movie that I haven’t made that I am asked about more. We have not yet cracked the script. If we do, we will make it provided Ben and Tom are still able-bodied. It’s a big idea, it’s the perfect pairing. This is an idea I had when I was doing ‘Night at the Museum’ and got to know Tom a bit. Ben and Tom are friends and I thought, this pairing, as Frank and Joe Hardy grown up and feuding and living in the shadow of having been the Hardy Boys and now it’s real life, that’s funny. So when and if we get it right, we’ll make it.”
Finally, Levy will produce “Neighborhood Watch” for SNL’s Akiva Schaffer who is directing a script by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. “‘Neighborhood Watch’ is shooting in a week. That is a homegrown idea at my company 21 Labs about a neighborhood watch, dudes who call themselves a club so they have an excuse to hang out away from their families. They stumble on an actual serious threat to their community," Levy said. "I’m very proud of the cast we put together -- Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughn, this emerging British comic Richard Ayoade and several other famous people who haven’t been announced. It shoots in a week and comes out next summer.”
So a very busy calendar for Levy, but you can see his next effort "Real Steel" when it opens on Friday, October 7th.