×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Weir likely to ‘Master’ helm for Fox voyage

Cult following could attract star scribe

Director Peter Weir (“The Truman Show”) is in discussions with 20th Century Fox to helm the first installment of what the studio hopes could be a big franchise: the “Master and Commander” series of high-seas adventure novels from late author Patrick O’Brian.

If the film works, the series really could go on and on; O’Brian wrote 20 novels, starting with “Master and Commander” in 1969, set in the world of the Royal Navy amid the 19th century Napoleonic wars and featuring captain Jack Aubrey and physician, naturalist and spy Stephen Maturin.

The books have a passionate cult following of the sort studios love — a built-in base of devoted fans that makes a greenlight for a big-budget period film with lots of special effects a notch less mortifying.

Weir, in Europe recently to attend a tribute to him at the Taormina film festival in Sicily, has been detouring to visit tall ships to get the feel of the genre.

Samuel Goldwyn Jr. is producing. Tom Rothman, who was just named co-chairman of the Fox film studio, was president of production for Goldwyn back in the early 1990s when the project was first set up. It’s also been a project long-nurtured by Hutch Parker, T.C.F. production prexy.

No script is in hand, but there’s no doubt that the project could attract an admiral-rank writer. O’Brian’s admirers include such luminaries as playwright Tom Stoppard, who won an Oscar for co-writing “Shakespeare in Love,” and helmer-scribe David Mamet (“State and Main”), who wrote a recent paean to O’Brian in the New York Times.

Praise for prose

Mamet compared O’Brian to Mark Twain and Conan Doyle and celebrated the writer’s gripping and unpretentious stories as an antidote to “putrid and despicable Graduate Degree sensitivity.”

O’Brian died in January at age 85.

Weir was part of the group of young directors who brought Australian cinema to world prominence in the 1970s. His early pics include “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and “The Last Wave.” In Hollywood, he’s known for “Witness,” “Dead Poets Society” and “Fearless,” among others, and he has picked up four Oscar nominations.

Sources said the studio saw Weir as “the best possible filmmaker in the world for the project because it’s both character-driven and has great scope.” He’s repped by CAA.

More Film

  • Bob Iger arrives at the Oscars,

    Bob Iger: 'Challenging Work of Uniting Our Businesses' Lies Ahead for Disney

    Bob Iger marked the historic occasion of Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox with a lengthy memo to staffers that was candid about the challenges of the massive integration of people and cultures that lies ahead for the media giant. “I wish I could tell you that the hardest part is behind us, that closing [...]

  • EMMA APPLETON as FEEF SYMONDS

    'Traitors' Producer 42 Hires Literary Manager Eugenie Furniss

    Eugenie Furniss is joining London- and Los Angeles-based management and production company 42 as literary manager, it was announced Wednesday. The company’s slate include movie “Ironbark,” a Cold War thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and TV series “Traitors,” a spy thriller coming to Netflix in the U.S. at the end of the month. Furniss joins 42 [...]

  • Brad Pitt Leonardo DiCaprio Once Upon

    Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Trailer Drops

    The first look at “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is finally here, and Quentin Tarantino is taking audiences back to the height of hippie Hollywood. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, the footage features a montage of Tinseltown in the late 1960s. The duo play Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, a washed-up actor and [...]

  • One-Cut-Of-The-Dead-Review

    Japanese Sleeper Hit ‘One Cut of the Dead’ Heads for English Remake (EXCLUSIVE)

    “One Cut of the Dead,” a micro-budget horror film that last year defied the odds to become one of the biggest hits of the year in Japan, is headed for an English-language remake. Patrick Cunningham, a Japan-based American producer whose credits include “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Starlet,” is behind the venture. The original film, [...]

  • Come as You Are review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Come as You Are'

    The rare remake that’s actually a slight improvement on its predecessor, Richard Wong’s “Come as You Are” translates Geoffrey Enthoven’s 2011 Belgian “Hasta la Vista” to middle America. Other changes are less substantial, but this seriocomedy has a less formulaic feel than the original while remaining a crowd-pleasing buddy pic-caper with a soft-pedaled minority empowerment [...]

  • Strange Negotiations review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Strange Negotiations'

    In a era when some mainstream entertainers have transitioned to targeting faith-based audiences, David Bazan is moving in the other direction. The gifted songwriter’s ersatz band Pedro the Lion was perhaps the most successful Christian indie rock act of its time, and the first to significantly cross over to secular fans. Then he ditched that persona (and [...]

  • Bluebird review

    SXSW Film Review: ‘Bluebird’

    As affectionate as a love letter but as substantial as an infomercial, Brian Loschiavo’s “Bluebird” may be of most interest to casual and/or newly converted country music fans who have occasionally wondered about the songwriters behind the songs. There’s a better than even-money chance that anyone who’s a loyal and longtime aficionado of the musical [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content