Oscar Wilde once said that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Nowhere (with the possible exception of Washington D.C.) is that more true than in Hollywood.
When Rupert Sanders went and slept with the leading lady of his debut picture, the tabloids were flooded with coverage of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. A few select outlets even published some words about Liberty Ross, the model/actress who has since divorced Sanders. But there was nothing to be seen about the man himself. Rupert Sanders was at the epicenter of a massive infidelity scandal, and nobody gave the slightest thought to him or his career. That’s how little anyone cared about the guy who directed Snow White and the Huntsman, even after he fucked up to such an incredible degree.
That should have been the end of his career, at least for the indefinite future. Yet here’s Deadline, with word that Sanders has been tapped to direct a live-action adaptation of the anime classic “Ghost in the Shell.”
The project is being shepherded by Steven Spielberg, who’s already released Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence on DVD through Dreamworks. On the one hand, the property’s fans may take solace with the knowledge that a titan like Spielberg is on hand to block studio interference and make sure that the property gets adapted faithfully. On the other hand, look how well that worked out for Transformers.
The film’s script is being written by William Wheeler, who’s all but completely unknown. He’s only got five credits on IMDB, including a straight-to-DVD Vince Vaughn flick (The Prime Gig) and three episodes of a short-lived NBC humiliation (“The Cape”). Then again, Wheeler also wrote The Hoax and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, both of which appear to be examples of really good films that nobody’s ever heard of. Deadline also points out that Wheeler is developing projects for Robert “Sorry about R.I.P.D.” Schwentke and Jodie Foster, so there’s that.
Getting back to Sanders, I’m hesitant to judge him as a filmmaker based on one movie. Especially that movie. I get the strong impression that Sanders was just a newbie director who was brought in to serve as a pawn for the studio execs who were really making the film. Sort of like Joseph Kosinski with Tron: Legacy. Or Robert Stromberg for the upcoming Maleficent.
Sanders was clearly hired to make an entirely hollow and uninspired Twilight/Alice in Underland knockoff. And that’s exactly what he made, though he at least had the good sense to throw in a campy Charlize Theron performance. Also, there’s no denying that for all its faults and missteps, SWatH looked absolutely gorgeous. Sanders has a keen eye for production value, no doubt about that. Last but not least, there’s still “Black Hole,” Sanders’ intriguing short film adaptation of the eponymous graphic novel.
To sum up, Steven Spielberg wants to make an American live-action adaptation of a highly influential anime/manga franchise (see: The Matrix, Avatar, and Spielberg’s own A.I.), and he gave the project to a couple of relative newcomers with everything to prove. Compare this to Michael Bay, Orci/Kurtzman, and the other well-established variables in the brain trust that Spielberg brought aboard for Transformers.
It’ll be interesting to see where this project goes, or even if it gets off the ground at all (Akira, anyone?).