Spanking the ‘Drake’? David O. Russell on producers’ list for popular video game adaptation


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EXCLUSIVE: As Disney gets ready to shoot the fourth ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,” Sony is looking for its own piece of the booty.

The studio is moving forward on “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,” the adaptation of the hugely popular video game that has a descendant of Sir Francis Drake colorfully and elaborately fighting his way to treasure on a remote desert isle. (That’s a screen shot of the Playstation game above.) Several directors are said to sit in producers’ sightlines, with the unusual name of David O. Russell on the list of notables. (Sources emphasize it’s still at the meeting stage and not yet close to the deal-making one.)


After bringing on writers for ‘Uncharted’ back in the fall (Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, who also worked on the DreamWorks adaptation of “Cowboys & Aliens”), producers (who include Charles Roven of ‘Dark Knight” fame) and the studio are said to like the pair’s version of the script and want to move forward. Sony even thought of trying to push the project so that the movie could fill a hole in the studio’s 2011 summer schedule but, with the Kevin James comedy “The Zookeeper” now in a slot that summer, is less likely to try that.

‘Uncharted’ is a game which savants have been telling us for some time lends itself to a big commercial movie treatment, in part because there are so many propulsive challenges its main characters must face. There’s also an acclaimed sequel to the game, a fact that surely doesn’t go unnoticed at the studio.

As for Russell, videogame-based action-adventures and the man who brought us one of the best of the 1990s’ dark indie dramas (” Spanking the Monkey,” natch) as well as one of its most frenetic comedies (‘Flirting with Disaster,’ also natch) may not immediately seem to go together. (Russell also recently completed a gritty drama, the period boxing movie ‘The Fighter,’ which is starting to generate early buzz.)

But these are the days of non-action film makers taking on big action movies -- Rob Marshall doing ‘Pirates 4” and Bill Condon on ‘Breaking Dawn.’

If only Russell had a musical under his belt...

-- Steven Zeitchik

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