‘Zombieland’ director Ruben Fleischer was courted for ‘Mission: Impossible IV,’ others


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EXCLUSIVE: Back when ‘Zombieland’ turned into a sleeper hit last fall, Ruben Fleischer became one of the most wanted directors in Hollywood. The rookie filmmaker behind the horror-comedy phenomenon met with and/or was wooed by producers for a slew of projects, including a potential Will Ferrell vehicle called ‘Daddy’s Home,’ a female version of ‘The Hangover’ titled ‘The Bachelorette’ and a number of others.

Fleischer chose to play it more deliberate, declining to attach himself to any of the films in that crop. But about six months later, his stock still remains high. Really high.


Most notably, sources say, Fleischer has engaged in conversations to direct ‘Mission: Impossible IV,’ the latest installment in Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt franchise. Fleischer likely won’t direct the film in the end, but Paramount’s keen interest in Fleischer highlights just how hot he remains.

The director is, however, close to a deal to direct a comedy called ’30 Minutes or Less.’ The log line is being kept under wraps, but financier Media Rights Capital is developing the project with comedian Danny McBride attached to star (leading us to wonder what shape McBride’s bluff, sometimes politically incorrect brand of comedy will take under Fleischer, a director who got plenty of good, snarling comedy out of ‘Zombieland’s’ Woody Harrelson).

Sources also say Fleischer has had conversations about directing a movie called ‘Babe in the Woods,’ an action-comedy written by Mike White that’s been at Sony for some time. The project, which focuses on an ordinary Midwestern woman who gets caught up in a Mafia plot, would reunite Fleischer with White, the writer of ‘The Good Girl,’ on which Fleischer worked (White also had a quick cameo in ‘Zombieland’). But a Sony spokesman said Fleischer was not involved with the project.
Still, all the interest in Fleischer, who’s made only one feature, highlights a truth that’s increasingly axiomatic in Hollywood: a director with a short but strong track record often trumps one with a longer but more mixed pedigree.

It also shows the power of a movie like ‘Zombieland,’ which of course combined elements of comedy, action and horror. If you’re a freshman who’s deciding what film to make, best to ensure it incorporates plenty of genres.

-- Steven Zeitchik