natali-swamp-thing-ballard

Vincenzo Natali is hardly a new talent. He’s been on the scene for years, starting out as a storyboard artist (primarily in animation) then moving into the director’s chair with films like Cube and Cypher.

But Splice has brought him to a new level, in part because Joel Silver, Dark Castle and Warner Bros. picked up the film and will release it this summer. The question then, naturally turns to what Natali will make next. He’s been developing a film called Tunnels, but is also now talking about two other adaptations: the J.G. Ballard novel High Rise and the Swamp Thing stories by Alan Moore.

Given his current association with Joel Silver, the Swamp Thing comments naturally set off a few bells. Silver had recently talked about wanting to make Swamp Thing, possibly in 3D. At WonderCon Natali talked about the film, explaining his interest in the character to MTV:

There are two incarnations of Swamp Thing — both of them are quite wonderful. [ed: that's an over-simplification, but we'll go with it.] The first one was by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, which was a more traditional sort of retake on classic, James Whale-style, Universal Studio horror films. Then Alan Moore reinvented the character in the early ’80s, and that’s actually the version that’s a little more interesting to me. [Swamp Thing] kind of became… I don’t want to call him an ecological superhero, but he became an ecological character quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Asked by CHUD if his experience with WB on Splice has lead to a desire to do more studio work, Natali says,

Listen, I’ve been wanting to sell my soul for a long time. It was simply that no one wanted my soul before!…I’d like to make another movie soon, but it’s hard. It’s a long, slow, brutal process, and my last film was made in 2003. So yeah, I’d love to jump into something, and having had the Warner Bros experience it’s a little like flying business class, and I don’t want to go back to coach!

One imagines that the performance of Splice might help push Swamp Thing one way or the other. Though given that Splice is a very specific sort of oddity being released into a tentpole-dominated summer, I’d be interested to know how WB will measure success. Numbers will be part of it, but as far as determining whether or not to hand over a film like Swamp Thing — not quite a tentpole, not quite a niche film — there will have to be other considerations.

And there’s also Ballard’s novel High Rise. Adapting Ballard is a big step — you’re essentially stepping into the ring with Spielberg (Ballard’s autobiographical Empire of the Sun) and Cronenberg (Crash). Natali also talked to MTV about that one:

I have an adaptation of a J.G. Ballard novel called ‘High Rise’ that I desperately want to do. This is about a building that is so enormous that it basically functions like a vertically integrated society. It’s about what happens when that [high rise] society collapses. I call it a social disaster film; it’s really fun, it’s really crazy.

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