He narrowly missed out on directing the next James Bond and the next Harry Potter, but producer-turned-helmer Matthew Vaughn has alternative plans for a spy franchise and a movie about a magical kid.
He has optioned Neil Gaiman‘s fantasy novel “Stardust,” about the adventures of a half-fairy boy, for himself to direct via his production shingle MARV. And he’s in talks with “Trainspotting” scribe John Hodge to come aboard his remake of 1960s TV series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” for Warner Bros.
“I’ve always wanted to make a spy movie, and our idea is like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” Vaughn says. “The name is the only thing that’s staying from the original show. The studio is giving us a lot of freedom to break the rules.”
Warner offered him “U.N.C.L.E.” after choosing David Yates instead to direct “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Insiders say Vaughn’s pitch for Potter was a tad too graphic and violent for the studio’s taste.
“I did slightly scare them by saying the next Potter has got to be more like ‘The Dirty Dozen,'” he laughs. “But I’m not going to be one of those directors who isn’t honest about what he intends to do, and then changes everything when shooting has started and it’s too late to fire him. I guess that’s the producer in me.”
Vaughn produced Guy Ritchie‘s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” before making his own directorial debut last year with the sharp and savvy Brit gangster pic “Layer Cake,” which starts its Stateside rollout via Sony Classics at Sundance.
“I’m beginning to think of myself as a director, but I can’t get rid of the producing side of me. I read a script and I can’t help doing a budget in my mind,” he says. “People ask why I think I could direct a big movie like Potter or Bond, but making ‘Lock, Stock’ for $900,000 is harder than making ‘Troy’ for $200 million. You try making a small movie look like a bigger film, and produce it at the same time, and see how much your head gets fried in the process.”
A slew of big-budget scripts is being tossed his way from Hollywood. MGM offered him the next Bond, but the deal stalled when he and the producers realized the schedule to deliver a movie by this November was impossible, particularly since the plan was to give the franchise a thorough makeover. “It became suicidal to try and make it,” he says. Martin Campbell (“GoldenEye”) is the name currently in the frame. “But maybe they will come back to me at some point,” Vaughn says hopefully.
Guantanamo Brits get movie treatment
Michael Winterbottom has optioned the story of the Tipton Three — three young British Asian men from the small town of Tipton in the English Midlands, who were captured by the Allied forces in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo Bay for two years until they were released last March. Accusations that they had links to the Taliban and al-Qaeda were never substantiated. They returned home with graphic tales of abuse at the hands of their American guards.
Winterbottom and his producer Andrew Eaton are still working out what to do with the material they have gleaned from personal interviews with the three. “We’d like to do a drama-type documentary like ‘Touching the Void,’ and hopefully Michael would direct it, but it’s all too soon to say,” Eaton says.