Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura has come on board to direct “Vessels,” a supernatural thriller based on the history and hauntings aboard the Queen Mary, Variety has learned exclusively.
Variety reported last year that the project would be the first in a slate of films for Ubiquity Studios, which is financing. It plans to start shooting early next year aboard the ship in Long Beach, Calif., as well as at Ubiquity’s studio in Irvine with Kitamura directing from a script by “Anabelle” writer Gary Dauberman.
Brett Tomberlin of Ubiquity is producing with Andrew Trapani (“Haunting in Connecticut”) and Brian Gilbert (“Wrong Turn”) of Nine/8 Entertainment and Mali Elfman (“Before I Wake”). Ubiquity’s Chris Carmichael and Connie Jordan are exec producing.
“The Queen Mary has an epic history through both glorious and hard times, and I’m fascinated by all the stories,” Kitamura said. “I’m determined to create a visually stunning, really scary modern day ghost story that takes place on this graceful vessel, and it’s a great honor to be able to shoot on the real Queen Mary.”
The Queen Mary first sailed in 1936 and was the Cunard Line’s flagship until being commissioned as an allied troop transport following the outbreak of World War II. It was nicknamed “The Grey Ghost” for its ability to avoid Nazi U-Boats and Adolf Hitler offered $250,000 to anyone who could sink it.
In 1942, the ocean liner jackknifed her own escort ship but was unable to rescue 239 soldiers in the escort due to the presence of U-Boats. In that same year, a 95-foot wave nearly capsized the Queen Mary while 16,000 soldiers were aboard — which inspired the movie “The Poseidon Adventure,” which was shot on the Queen Mary in 1971.
The Queen Mary made 1,000 ocean crossings before being retired in 1967. The ship is also regarded as one of the most haunted places in the world.
Carmichael told Variety last year that he had wanted to make a movie about the Queen Mary ever since he saw the ship heading for Long Beach in 1967. “I was surfing in Laguna Beach in 1967 when I saw it go by and I was stunned at its enormity,” he added.
Kitamura gained fame via his first feature film “Versus,” an ultra violent action film, which led to directing credits on “Alive,” Azumi” and “Aragami,” “Godzilla: Final Wars” and “Sky High.” He directed his first Hollywood movie, “The Midnight Meat Train,” starring Bradley Cooper, in 2008, and is attached to “The Call of Cthulhu” for Radar Pictures, “Damned” for Darko Entertainment and “Enemy Within” for Smash Media.
“We are excited that Ryuhei will be directing ‘Vessels,’” said Carmichael. “He is enormously talented and experienced, and his passion and excitement for the Queen Mary will surely bring to life the foreboding world of this haunted ship.”
The deal for Ubiquity Studios was assembled by Eric Feig of Feig Law. Kitamura and Dauberman are represented by ICM Partners.