Jason Bateman Exits Apple's Space Race Movie Artemis Over Creative Differences

It appears "Project Artemis" is not the project for Jason Bateman.

A few months after Apple acquired the production for a cool $100 million, the "Ozark" star is stepping down as director of the space race movie starring the mighty Marvel duo of Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans. It's yet another one of those "creative difference" scenarios, but according to Deadline, the parting was amicable. Johansson's production company, These Pictures (which she co-runs with Jonathan Lia and Keenan Flynn) has expressed an interest in teaming with Bateman on another project somewhere down the line. 

Bateman has been aggressively pursuing directing gigs over the last few years, calling the shots on nine episodes of "Ozark" and taking on four episodes of the Stephen King-inspired "The Outsider." Whatever he does next, it'll likely be done behind the camera.

A $100 million project in search of a director

If you're wondering what "Project Artemis" is about, join the club. It obviously has something to do with NASA's ongoing, very real program to return astronauts to the moon. Along with taking on the title voice of Pixar's forthcoming "Lightyear," Evans is an unabashed space exploration nut. He's also a total optimist, so if he's involved, this is probably less "Event Horizon" and more "The Right Stuff" (the Philip Kaufman movie, not the godawful Disney+ series). We can use all the happy thoughts folks can muster up at the moment, so, if that's what "Project Artemis" is, godspeed, Chris Evans.

As for who's going to step up to direct, Evans has one feature credit under his belt, while his "Avengers" co-star Johansson helmed a short back in 2008. Maybe they could co-direct! Or maybe they'll turn to the film's screenwriter, Rose Gilroy, who comes from superb filmmaking stock in father Tony Gilroy (Academy Award-nominated director of "Michael Clayton") and mother Rene Russo (who is, y'know, Rene Russo). The only certainty here is that, with Apple already on the line for $100 million, this movie is getting made and soon. There's not a chance the tech giant or Three Pictures will wait around and lose the ever-in-demand Evans to another project.

Johansson recently wrapped on Wes Anderson's "Asteroid City," which is apparently not a space movie, while Evans is set to invade your living room on July 22, 2022, in the Russo brothers' Netflix-financed action-thriller, "The Gray Man." Bateman just completed his last season of "Ozark," and is attached to direct "Here Comes the Flood," a "romantic-heist" movie from "X-Men: Days of Future Past" screenwriter Simon Kinberg.