Everything we know about the 'Uncharted' movie
The adaptation of the hit video game franchise is on an adventure through the Hollywood movie-making machine.
Since 2009, Sony has been hard at work bringing the action and adventure of the "Uncharted" video game franchise to the big screen. In many ways, the development of the film has featured as many pitfalls, unexpected turns and unique characters as the story it's based on. Fans looking for a happy ending, however, should be encouraged by the latest news below that by all accounts shows a new, concerted effort to give "Uncharted" the talent it deserves.
“I think what will happen with ‘Uncharted’ is that it will be the first of many, because it will be so fun and [I think it will be] a very big movie,” Arad told IFC. “So the floodgates will open.”
Read on below to discover the status of one of the most anticipated video game-to-film adaptations in recent memory.
A new writer
Joe Carnahan, the man behind such films as 'The Grey' and 'The A-Team,' has been tasked with writing the film adaptation for 'Uncharted.' (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)
[Update: According to Deadline, Sony is bringing on a new writer to re-tool Carnahan's script as a prequel. The new direction will feature English actor Tom Holland in the lead role of Nathan Drake and take place years before his adventures in the video game saga. The original story follows below.]
Perhaps buoyed by the huge success of the latest entry in the "Uncharted" video game franchise, Sony has forged ahead confidently on the film adaptation with the addition of American screenwriter Joe Carnahan.
"Archaeology today is in itself an antiquity, but that world has always fascinated me," Carnahan told Variety. "Especially when you go to a museum today and wonder how a piece got there to begin with."
Carnahan's impressive portfolio of writing, producing and directing credits speaks for itself. If Sony is looking for an authentic, dramatic take on the "Uncharted" story, this is the guy to deliver it. Not only was he the executive producer behind the series "State of Affairs" with American actress Katherine Heigl and "The Blacklist" with Israeli actor Alon Aboutboul, but he's also penned such adventure films as "Smokin' Aces," "The A-Team" and the survival thriller "The Grey."
While Carnahan has expressed interest in also directing "Uncharted," another commitment is keeping him from tackling the job. “In a perfect world I would love to do both, but right now, I’m only on board to write the script,” he said.
Update: Sony has quietly removed the film from its release schedule, likely because absolutely no one expected the studio to make its 2017 release date. This also takes the pressure of Carnahan, allowing him to take his time crafting a quality adventure for Nathan Drake on the big screen.
Update 2: As suspected, the project is still moving forward, with Carnahan posting this recent tidbit to Twitter:
The opening scene for UNCHARTED...at least in script form, is really, REALLY GOOD.— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) September 2, 2016
As one insider told Deadline, the studio is “loving what they’re seeing. Joe has a completely fresh take that feels big.”
The script is finished
In what's a giant leap forward for the project, Carnahan announced on January 8th in an Instagram post that he has finished the first draft of the "Uncharted" screenplay.
"Done and Dusted," he wrote. "Now the REAL work begins. If there's a more monstrously cool action script in Hollywood right now, I wanna read it, 'cuz this thing is a BEAST."
An origin story?
The "Uncharted" film has been in development for so long that it's easy to forget just how many people have been involved. While we have no idea what Carnahan will bring to the table, we do know that American screenwriter and producer David Guggenheim submitted his own 124-page script treatment to Sony back in 2014. According to those who have seen it, the film would focus on Nathan Drake's origin story, with the romantic character of Elena playing a larger role.
In emails leaked as part of the infamous "Sony Hacks" in late 2014, executives at the studio also compared the film to a more serious version of the 2004 action adventure "National Treasure" starring Nicolas Cage.
"'National Treasure' is fun no doubt, but 'Uncharted' takes the action adventure movie to a more grounded, contemporary and visceral level, and we need to do that given what audiences have been exposed to since the 'National Treasure' movies," Columbia Pictures senior vice president Jonathan Kadin wrote. "So, we'll get the kids for sure, but we'll have a movie that can be strong enough – and 'cool' enough – for adults."
Tom Holland swings into the lead role
Those origin story rumors? With 20-year-old English actor Tom Holland revealed to be the new face of Nathan Drake, it appears that those hints were spot on.
Sony Pictures Chairman Tom Rothman was so impressed with Holland in his superhero role as Spider-Man in the upcoming "Spider-Man: Homecoming," that he immediately made a pitch to make him the star of the burgeoning "Uncharted" franchise. The report also revealed that the film will be a prequel to the "Uncharted" video games, focusing on a flashback scene early in the third game that featured a young Nathan Drake learning discovering his calling as a thief.
Bryan Cranston may co-star
American actor Bryan Cranson, who rose to international fame as the anti-hero chemist Walter White on AMC's "Breaking Bad," is reportedly being recruited by Sony Pictures for a big role in "Uncharted." Speculation is rife that Cranston is being sought to play everything from the wisecracking Sully from the video game franchise to an unnamed villain.
Cranston, who has enjoyed an extremely busy film career since retiring the character of Walter White in 2013, was last seen as the all-powerful Zordon in Israeli producer Haim Saban's "Power Rangers" reboot.
Enter Shawn Levy
With Carnahan's first draft of the new "Uncharted" script complete, Sony has tasked Canadian film director Shawn Levy to helm the project.
For fans who have followed "Uncharted's" development over the years, Levy's involvement should come as welcome news. In addition to directing the "Night at the Museum" franchise, "Reel Steel," and several episodes of this summer's surprise Netflix hit "Stranger Things," he is also credited as a producer for the upcoming sci-fi thriller "Arrival."
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Steven Spielberg reflected on Levy's directing style, saying: "Shawn likes to tell his stories as if he's in the audience." According to Levy, Spielberg's comment hit the nail on the head.
"That was the first time I realized 'Oh yeah, that is the kind of movie I make, and I'm making them for the audience experience,' he told Den of Geek. "This has tended to make the movies populist and of a certain genre. I guess the short answer is, I've put the camera in the right place if it feels right to me."
According to Levy, filming will begin in "in the late spring, early summer."
Naughty Dog will have input
Having Joe Carnahan on board to write the "Uncharted" script? Excellent. His vocal vow to work with the creative visionaries behind the franchise? Even better.
This overture came via social media, with Carnahan writing: "I wanna get with @Naughty_Dog & make sure we line things up creatively on "Uncharted." Hugely important to me. Gotta make creators happy."
According to Neil Druckmann, the Israeli-American creative director behind "Uncharted 4" and "The Last of Us," Sony has kept his team "somewhat involved" over the course of the film's past development.
"Every once in a while they'll come in and they'll present to us: here's the script, here's what we're thinking. We'll tell them what we think works, what we think doesn't work," Druckman said during a press event in April. "That's where we're at. Last I heard is they got a new screenwriter, but we haven't seen anything in a while."
With Carnahan himself reaching out, here's to hoping that whatever is crafted from his keyboard also has Naughty Dog's fingerprints all over it.
The potential faces of Nathan Drake
Ready to spin the wheel on the potential Hollywood actors who could take on the role of the wise-cracking explorer Nathan Drake? "Guardians of the Galaxy" star Chris Pratt was approached, but turned it down for unknown reasons. And then there's Mark Wahlberg, who was reportedly so deeply involved in the film's development that at one point he was helping to tweak the script. For now, the coveted role appears to be up in the air. Fans are extremely interested in seeing "Castle" star Nathan Fillion's take on Drake, who as recently as 2011 expressed interest. Other potentials include "Flash" regular Robbie Amell, "Star Wars: Episode VIII" star Oscar Isaac and "Suicide Squad's" Scott Eastwood.
Our pick? None other than Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, familiar to millions of "Game of Thrones" fans as Jaime Lannister on the hit HBO series. Besides looking like a physical match for the character (as shown above), we've already seen that he can pull off the physical action and witty banter of the role. And with "Thrones" confirmed to be ending after its 8th season, now would be the perfect time to consider a new franchise to leap to.
A new, original story
In an interview with Collider, screenwriter Joe Carnahan explained that while the "Uncharted" film will be recognizable to fans, it won't be exactly the same as the video games. Thankfully, it's an approach that creative directors Neil Druckmann and Amy Hennig were in agreement on.
"[I] took them through what I was doing and what I was thinking of and they loved it," he said. "She loved it. She understands too that you can’t be so slavish and devoted to the source material."
Carnahan recalled the advice of the late American television producer Stephen Cannell who said that sometimes you have to break with tradition to tell compelling stories. "It’s just making a great movie and trying to put as much of the game in as you can and the sensibilities of making Drake and Sullivan and so on, and beyond that, just do something original and fun," he said. "Roll the dice, like we have to do on anything."
As for the script's themes, Carnahan said that it's very much an anti-Indiana Jones kind of film, but one that any fan of the "Uncharted" video game series will undoubtedly enjoy.
"I do think there’s some interesting, again, anti-Indiana Jones stuff going on, looting and pillaging these UNESCO sites and world heritage sites and also these uncharted realms," he shared, adding that the film will likely shoot for a PG-13 rating. "There’s 3 million shipwrecks all over the world that have never been seen. That to me is fascinating. So there’s a lot of that stuff, and a lot of that’s kinda new and improved, for lack of a better phrase."
An "Indiana Jones" for a new generation
According to director Shawn Levy, the intention with the "Uncharted" franchise is to introduce younger audiences to the world of adventure archeology. "It's a Drake chapter that hasn't been told ... an Indiana Jones story for a generation that didn't grow up on Indiana Jones," Levy told Nerdist.
The "Stranger Things" director also made sure to double-down on his desire to create something new and original, and not just a live action version of a video game story that's already been told.
"Here’s an opportunity to do a treasure-hunting action movie with attitude with a chapter of the protagonist’s life that you can’t get for free at home by playing the game," he added. "So we’re trying to take the spirit, and the tone, and the attitude of the game, and the crazy visual spectacle of it, but apply it to this Drake chapter that you haven’t seen told."
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