What Happened to Brad Bird’s 1906?

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News that Brad Bird might direct his first live-action film started to bubble up three years ago. The movie is 1906, an account of the San Francisco earthquake as recounted in James Dalessandro’s novel of the same name. It’s been quite some time since we heard anything at all about the film. Last update from Bird, director of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, was that he was still working on the script, possibly trying to scale it down from $200m status after suits at Warner Bros. balked at the Titanic-style scale of the film.

It’s been a year since we heard anything at all, and now there are distressing rumors that the film may never happen at all.

Blue Sky Disney has a long post about the film this week. The bottom line, as the site reports, is the script length and consequent budget:

Time has kept ticking and [1906] seems no closer to being made than before. There is no official start date. There is no studio approval from Warner or its Disney-Pixar partnership. Yes, the Mouse is involved, but Warner is the active partner in this. The budget and length of the script are said to be problems for the Suits that weld power over Brad’s fate. And there is doubt that they will give it approval. Bird has turned in at least two drafts and is awaiting a decision.

Things being what they are at studios now — there’s little support for anything that isn’t a proven property — it’s hard to see Warner Bros. being willing to cough up the coin for something on the scale of 1906. Bird’s status as a first-time live action director can’t be helping, either. No matter that he’s made a couple of the most successful animated films of the last twenty years. The working methods at Pixar are quite different from how he’d have to work for Warner Bros. Could the unfortunate resonance of the Haiti earthquake be a factor, too? What studio would be willing to greenlight even a highly respectful earthquake movie right now?

Blue Sky Disney says, without any real corroboration for the assertion, mind you, that if the film doesn’t happen this year it likely won’t happen at all. Make of that what you will, but the fact is that this has been gestating forever, with little real result.

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