Roger Avary to Direct John Cusack in Thriller ‘Airspace;’ Will (Still) Script and Direct ‘Castle Wolfenstein’
Posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2012 by Russ Fischer
John Cusack is on a roll this week at the American Film Market, and he’s bringing Roger Avary (along for the ride. The writer/director has had his share of trouble in the last few years thanks to a DUI-related vehicular manslaughter conviction, but he’s getting back in the news in a positive way with a couple new projects.
The first is Airspace, written by Briana Hartman (Brother’s Keeper), in which Avary would direct Cusack as a charter pilot who is en route home but “must escape a sudden attack by a heavily armed MiG fighter jet after finding a mysterious briefcase in his plane.” It’s described in shorthand as “Duel in the sky,” referencing Steven Spielberg’s early thriller. Avary is polishing the script, says Variety.
And then there’s an old Avary project that has been revived: the film adaptation of the classic Castle Wolfenstein video games, which he’ll write and direct.
News that Avary would do Wolfenstein cropped up years ago, in 2007. But there was that trouble mentioned above, and the project has been in suspended animation. Now Panorama Media and producer Samuel Hadida (who produced the first, Avary-penned Silent Hill film) announced that they will produce the Wolfenstein film.
Described as being similar in tone to successful WWII revisions like Captain America and Inglorious Basterds, the film will be about “a young U.S. Army Captain and a British Special Agent on a top-secret mission to Castle Wolfenstein where Hitler will be for the unveiling of a new secret weapon.” After reaching the castle, the two run afoul of the legendary SS paranormal division, and have to fight their way through creatures and human monsters. (Which is to say: Nazis.)
The description makes it sound like this draws evenly from the early games, and from the shooters that came after. Before the release of Doom, which established the first-person shooter (FPS) as the dominant game development template for two decades to come, iD Software released a game called Wolfenstein 3D. The title was essentially a template for Doom, with the same basic FPS gameplay and over-the-top violence tinged with weird humor and grotesque enemy designs. (Wolfenstein 3D was also the game that helped lock shareware distribution as a workable business model.)
A few sequels and remakes have followed Wolfentein 3D, but it was iD’s other series, such as Doom and Quake, that turned into big mythology-makers in the game space. Doom even bled into films — or maybe “drooled” is a better word, as the 2004 film starring Dwayne Johnson was pretty toothless. And, really, Wolfenstein has already been in movies for decades, as it’s just about a guy blowing a bunch of Nazis to hell. Not really new movie territory.
But there were two earlier games, Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, that had more of a stealth angle. Sounds like the current movie version of Wolfenstein will draw from them all. Whether it will ever really happen, on the other hand, is something we’ll have to wait and see.