‘Everest’s’ Kormakur, Scott Free, to Turn ‘Eve Online’ Into TV Series

Kormakur, Scott Free set ‘Eve Online,’ director and Working Title attempt smart big screen entertainment with ‘Everest’

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Baltasar Kormakur, director of “Everest,” which opens the 72nd Venice Festival Wednesday, is teaming with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free on a TV adaptation of “Eve Online,” the hit sci-fi online game.

Project is set up at Kormakur’s RVK Studios and Scott Free. Set in a galaxy of 7,800 star systems more than 21,000 years in the future, “Eve Online” is a massive multi-player role-playing game. Per Kormakur, who purchased the “Eve Online” TV adaptation rights from publisher CCP Games, RVK and Scott Free are currently in talks with potential financiers with the aim of creating a series pilot.

Back on Earth, “Everest” stars Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal as Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, respectively, the climbers who in 1996 lead the teams in the real-life drama that inspired the film.

Shot in 3D with Dolby Atmos sound and bowing Sept. 18 in the U.S on Imax 3D and premium large format 3D screens, before going wide on standard 2D and 3D a week later, “Everest” is a character-driven movie which is “intimate but on a big-scale,” Kormakur told Variety before Venice.

“It’s important for cinema to keep on evolving, for people, and not only teenagers, to be able to go to a movie that has huge epic scope but has an intellectual and real story to tell,” said Kormakur.

“That’s where cinema needs to invent itself and I think it’s doing it,” he added.

“We always wanted to make ‘Everest’ a spectacular movie,” said Tim Bevan, topper of at Working Title Films, which produced with Cross Creek Pictures, Universal Pictures, RVK Studios, Walden Media, Free State Pictures and Chromakey-Hire.com

“At a time that you’re fighting for an audience that seeks an absolute sense of being on top of the biggest mountain in the world, the 3D effects add to that considerably, making the mountain very real,” Bevan added, calling “Everest” an early autumn intelligent popcorn film.

“I really wanted to make Everest visceral, real,” Kormakur said. “One thing that amazed me when I was scouting in base camp is the volume of Everest: It’s humbling. I wanted to find a way to bring that to the screen. One way was 3D.”

Such was his drive for realism, Kormakur recounted, that the film’s production imported real snow from the Netherlands to use on scenes shot in the soundstages in the U.K.; a sound technician was sent to Everest to record the sound of the mountain.

Technology aside, “Everest” is certainly about something. Climbing a mountain is a good metaphor for anything, Kormakur said, saying “Everest” turned on ambition.

Hall and Fischer “became sponsored professional climbers, and then to be able to be on the mountain, where these men felt at home, created guiding businesses.”

“But it was the beginning of commercialization of Everest. And the more climbers up there, especially if not properly prepared, the worse it becomes,” he added.

“Everest” world premieres at the right time, Bevan argued. “If you look at the big screen format films that have historically come out at this time of year – “Gravity,” “Life of Pi” – the visual side is as important as the dramatic side, they don’t fit comfortably in the middle of summer but do in spring or autumn.”

Kormakur’s film also comes as “one of the fastest-growing areas of cinema exhibition” is Premium Large Format screen construction, whether digital Imax, MAXX, Barco Escape or Dolby Cinema, per a recent IHS Technology report. PLF screens soared by 16% second half 2014 to 1,628 worldwide.

For Bevan, big screen format films “is a risky area to be in since they tend to be one-off films. But if they do work, it’s very satisfying.”

Working Title does harbor ambitions to move up in scale, however. “We’d certainly like to make more movies for the intelligent popcorn slot on a slightly bigger budget,” said Bevan.

But for that to happen, “ ‘Everest’ has to work. You’re only as good as your last one,” Bevan acknowledged.