After nearly a year attempting to lure Jim Carrey for a remake of the 1964 comedy “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” (Variety, May 19-25, 1997), Warner Bros. has found nearly irresistible bait to hook the star and put the fish story into production this spring: WB has signed Steve Oedekerk to write and direct it.
It marks a reteaming of the duo behind “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls,” the 1995 film that set an opening weekend record for a comedy with $37.8 million, and grossed more than $100 million. They have also brought in “Wag the Dog” director Barry Levinson to produce, and he’ll also have creative input into the project.
WB still has to come to financial terms with Carrey, but that is considered a formality. The slumping WB needs a potential blockbuster like a fish needs water, and the haggling over deal points isn’t expected to take long.
Oedekerk expected his next film to be a big-budget adaptation of the comic book “Cowboys and Aliens” for Universal and DreamWorks, particularly since Fox 2000 landed “Twister” director Jan De Bont for the similarly themed “Ghost Riders.” But the writer/director couldn’t resist the urge to reteam with Carrey and dabble in the computer-animated technology that will allow him to turn Carrey into a fish.
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Carrey will play the title character, portrayed in the original by Don Knotts, who was a meek but patriotic guy turned down by the Navy because his eyesight is just better than that of Mr. Magoo, particularly when he loses his glasses. Limpet realizes his dream when he falls in the water, turns into a fish and becomes the Navy’s secret weapon in WWII. Oedekerk said the remake will borrow the concept, but most everything else will be different.
“I really liked the first ‘Limpet’ movie, but to me this needs to be set in the present day,” he said. “The main hook will be there, that for whatever reason a guy ends up becoming a fish. But the original was set in its own time, with the Nazis, the Navy submarines. The basic gist of the character arc will be the same, but the overall storyline will be contemporized.”
Advances in computer animation technology will give the new version a more sophisticated look.
“The way it will be shot will be entirely different, too, than a normal physical production,” said Oedekerk. “A lot of the film will be created inside a computer, so your limits go completely away. You can make it look like whatever you want, have the camera move however you want. I’ll be basically be popping back and forth from physical production and computer generated work.”
Much the way they collaborated on the “Ace” sequel, Oedekerk said he’ll begin right away on a draft of the script.
‘Slam out the comedy’
“The way we usually work, I do a pass and finish the script, and then Jim and I live together for a couple of weeks, and do a pass to slam out the comedy,” said Oedekerk.
“The rest will be the animation. It won’t feel it, except for having this freak fish with Jim’s face on it, but it will look photo-realistic and yet we’ll get to experience this whole underwater world,” he continued.
Oedekerk was repped by William Morris, manager Scott Howard and lawyer David Colden.
Carrey, who’ll be seen this summer toplining the Peter Weir-directed “The Truman Show” for Paramount, will put “Limpet” before several other high-profile vehicles still being developed for him. That includes another remake, New Line’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” as well as the MGM project “Fool on the Hill.”
Carrey is also believed to be among a top-tier group of actors interested in the Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon,” which will be the next film from two-time Oscar-winning director Milos Forman at Universal.
Carrey’s repped by UTA and the Gold-Miller Co.
Levinson, who’s about to unveil a megabudget live-action adaptation of Michael Crichton’s underwater epic “Sphere” for WB, is repped by ICM’s Rosalie Swedlin.