Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2009 by Russ Fischer
Will Smith could re-team with his I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence, but not for the film you’re probably expecting to hear about. Lawrence is developing a script called The City That Sailed as a vehicle for Smith. Originally written by Andrew Niccol, the script has kind of a neat, Miyazaki-ish logline: “a father and daughter living on opposite sides of the ocean whose love is so strong that it causes Manhattan to split off and float across the Atlantic.” According to Variety, Brian Koppelman and David Levien (Rounders, Oceans Thirteen) will rewrite as the project goes forward.
THR has a few more details of the script, which Fox picked up in 2006. Smith would be “a New York City street magician whose daughter, because of family circumstances, lives in England. In exploring a lighthouse one day, the girl discovers a room with magic candles and wishes to be reunited with her father, causing the island of Manhattan to break away and drift across the Pond.” There’s something in this modern fantasy plot that appeals to me, and I’m really curious to see what Niccol (Gattaca, The Truman Show) made of it. His sensibility doesn’t seem quite right for what I’m envisioning, based on that brief description, and evidently Fox agrees. Koppelman and Levien could certainly add to the ‘street magician’ angle, and probably lighten up the proceedings as well.
So where does that leave the I Am Legend prequel that Smith and Lawrence were developing, as reported at the end of last year? Probably still in development, where it will hopefully stay. Neither Variety nor THR makes any mention of the project, which is a good sign. The idea of seeing the fall of Manhattan is vaguely intriguing, but doesn’t really seem necessary; with a foregone conclusion, why bother at all?