'Apollo 18' Gets A New Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego

The found-footage sci-fi film Apollo 18 started to make waves when it was picked up at the American Film Market by the Weinstein Company. Produced by Timur Bekmambetov, the film purports to tell the story of a moon mission undertaken in secret. The mission led to an alien encounter, and the 'found-footage' aspect would see the story played out through footage supposedly shot by the astronauts.

Trevor Cawood was too direct, but now Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (who made El rey de la montaƱa, aka King of the Hill) has stepped in and will helm the picture instead.

Mr. Cawood has been an effects guy for some time, with a deep resume, but this would have been his feature directorial debut. THR suggests that a super-tight production schedule was the culprit for his departure. The film is scheduled to shoot now and race through post-production in time for a March opening date. Deadline, meanwhile, says that while Trevor Cawood's effects company way going to do the film's effects work, its schedule was too packed, and Timur Bekmambetov's company in Moscow will now handle the effects.

This will instead be the first English-language film from Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, who has TV and feature experience in Spain. I saw his last feature, King of the Kill, at TIFF in 2007. It has a straightforward premise and no small amount of tension, in the end I thought it was too devoted to a reveal that happens halfway through, without fully following through on the implications of the info we're given. (King of the Hill is about two people who are being tormented by a sniper while lost in rural Spain; the nature of the sniper is part of the reveal. No, it isn't an alien.)

A few other films have been caught in the wake of the Apollo 18 development. The film's out of the gate momentum reportedly was a factor in the cancellation of Roland Emmerich's The Zone, and another similar project, Dark Moon, was dropped by Warner Bros. before Dark Castle moved to pick it up. Finally, Paramount has Oren Peli's Area 51 set for early next year, and TWC sees Apollo 18 as direct competition for that picture.