1906 movie

Brad Bird is primarily known for his work in animation, but he does dabble in live-action from time to time, helming live-action flicks like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland. But for a time, 1906, based on James Dalessandro‘s novel about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, was going to be Bird’s first live-action film. The project has been dormant for years, but Bird says he still hopes to make it – maybe as both a movie and a TV show.

Incredibles 2 director Brad Bird has been hoping to turn 1906 into a movie since at least 2007. The project has gone through various incarnations, and while it was originally supposed to be Bird’s first live-action film, he eventually moved on to bigger things. Now, Bird has provided an update on 1906 to the Variety podcast Playback (via Collider). As Bird tells it, he has big, bold ideas for the film – he doesn’t just want to make a disaster pic; he wants to tell a huge, sprawling story about San Francisco in the early 1900s:

“It wants to be a longer story. It’s a really fascinating moment in history. Prior to the earthquake, San Francisco is this really happening city that’s somewhere between the Old West and the 20th Century. I mean, they still had bars where people were getting Shanghai’d—getting slipped Mickey Finns and you would wake up on a boat and if you didn’t work the boat, you’d be thrown overboard. So that was still happening and the people who owned those kinds of bars were in the California legislature. In other words, it was somewhere between the Wild West and the sophisticated city San Francisco would like to see itself as, and was in many ways.”

Bird goes on to say that the ambitiousness of the project has caused some issues – the story seems too big to fit into a movie, but Bird worries that if he were to take it to TV, he might lose the scope of the big screen. “It’s this fascinating moment in history where gaslight and electric light were co-existing, and cars and horses were co-existing,” the filmmaker says. “Getting it in a movie-sized box, it’s too big a story for. If you do it for TV you’re missing the scale of motion pictures, so I keep trying to get it to kind of straddle these two worlds.”

The director thinks he might have a compromise – tell the earthquake portion of the story on the big screen, and focus on the other elements in a TV format:

“I love the movie experience and I would want the earthquake to be on a movie screen and yet I recognize that the story’s too [big], so I’m kind of trying to get it done as an amalgam and people are kind of intrigued by it. Warners wants to do the earthquake part of it as a movie, and we just can’t get it all under one roof. But I’m still fascinated by the story. To be continued. I’m still interested in it but I want it to be done in a way that embraces all the possibilities and yet somehow stays near or part of it or something on the big screen, so we’ll see what happens.”

“We’ll see what happens” isn’t exactly a confirmation that anything will happen anytime soon, but this conversation at least reveals Bird is still thinking about the project in some capacity. In the meantime, we’ll have to make due with Incredibles 2, which is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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