Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 by Peter Sciretta
Sometimes while I blog about the latest news, I think to myself about how much the last year has affected the story I’m working on. With some actors and directors, it doesn’t make much of a difference. For example, George Clooney’s Michael Clayton was days away from screening at the Toronto Film Festival, yet it already had Oscar buzz. Clooney is the kind of actor who will always have his pick of big projects with award appeal.
On the other hand, Jason Reitman, who broke onto the scene with his 2005 adaptation of Thank You For Smoking, was still not a name director. Smoking, which was made for $6.5 million, grossed $24.8 million domestically, enough to be considered a big success in it’s own right. But not enough of a success that most of your friends probably still hadn’t heard of it, never mind seen it. Last year around this time, Reitman was busy finishing his second film, getting ready for the movie’s premiere at Telluride and Toronto. A movie written by a blogger and starring some small canadian girl that most of America didn’t even know existed. And we all know that that film, Juno, went on to gross over $227 million worldwide, receiving four Oscar nominations and one Academy Award win. It’s interesting what difference a year makes.
Since the release of Juno, Reitman has produced a horror film for Fox Atomic and has already signed on to develop and direct Jim Carrey’s next comedy. And tonight it was announced that George Clooney is in talks to star in his next film, an adaptation of Walter Kirn‘s novel Up in the Air. Clooney will play Ryan Bingham, a guy with a simple goal: to accumulate one million miles in his frequent flyer account. Here is more information from the book’s cover synopsis:
“Bingham’s job as a Career Transition Counselor has kept him airborne for years. Although he has come to despise his line of work, he has come to love the culture of what he calls “Airworld,” finding contentment within pressurized cabins, anonymous hotel rooms, and a wardrobe of wrinkle-free slacks. With a letter of resignation sitting on his boss’s desk, and the hope of a job with a mysterious consulting firm, Ryan Bingham is agonizingly close to his ultimate goal, his Holy Grail: one million frequent flier miles. But before he achieves this long-desired freedom, conditions begin to deteriorate. With perception, wit, and wisdom, Up in the Air combines brilliant social observation with an acute sense of the psychic costs of our rootless existence, and confirms Walter Kirn as one of the most savvy chroniclers of American life.”
What we already know:
- Dreamworks will distribute the film.
- Original estimated budget of around $12 to $15 million
- He wrote one of the roles for Reitman regular J.K. Simmons (who played Ellen Page’s father in Juno and Aaron Eckhart’s boss in Thank You For Smoking)
- Reitman took a break from adapting this book when he came across the script for Juno.
- Up in the Air was named one of Amazon.com’s Best of 2001.
- Time Out New York called Up in the Air “a hilarious, often ingenious ode to America.”
- The Washington Post called it “A dead-on, wry portrait of the life of the road warrior.”
- Another one of Walter Kirn’s novels, Thumbsucker, was adapted as a feature film back in 2005.