The infamous Sony hack of December 2014 yielded a treasure* trove of information and gossip in the form of a plethora of emails. Among the projects discussed were the upcoming Men in Black/21 Jump Street crossover (which just hired a director this week) and the potential for indie darling/Michael Shannon aficionado Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud) to tackle an Aquaman film, a job that eventually went to James Wan (The Conjuring, Furious 7).
Screen Crush got a chance to talk to Nichols about his flirtation with the film and his reasons for saying no during press rounds for his new film Midnight Special, (which scored strong reviews out of Sundance and is described as Nichols’ baby step into studio filmmaking). He explained that, because of his work style and habits, he would have been ill-suited to joining such a massive undertaking prematurely.
“But, you now [sighs] the trick with ‘Midnight Special’ is even though it was made at the studio, they gave me a lot of control over the process. And I don’t just mean control over final cut, but it felt like we were making one of my movies. I had my team. I had my family there. My crew. We made the movie we all wanted to make. With the DC universe, so many parts of it have been activated and so many decisions have already been made that it felt more and more — and Warner Bros. agreed — that it was me trying to jump on a moving train. That’s not so much what I’m good at. I’m more of a ground up kinda guy.”
Nichols, whose new movie will brave the March 18 weekend before the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hurricane makes landfall a week later, was courted way back in October 2014. His involvement was first reported by The Daily Beast that December.
While Nichols advocated for the shared universe concept, it is conversely that concept that keeps him from jumping on the ship now that it’s left harbor.
“Not really [interested in joining the DCEU]. Because, it’s all a connected universe. And it should be. And I was an advocate of that. The decisions that Zack (Snyder) is going to make in Batman v Superman, those all connect to the things that are going to happen in the Justice League and all that. And I was a huge comic book nerd, so I know all these characters and they all need to be beautifully webbed together. I was just far enough on the outside that I could develop thing in a vacuum all day long but it wasn’t going to line up with everything they had planned.”
Nichols is hardly the first to balk at the film-by-committee format that has become dominant as shared universes become vogue. Ava DuVernay turned down Black Panther for the same reason, Transformers is turning into a theatrical TV series and Marvel Studios only recently escaped from the evil vortex that was its creative committee.
“If you were a director working on the Warner Bros. lot over the past few years, someone is going to ask you about a DC character at some point,” Nichols laughed.
SOURCE: Screen Crush
*Sony execs may disagree with this word.