"Museum" director Shawn Levy is new man of "Steel"

Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:17am EDT
 
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By Jay A. Fernandez and Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - How's this for an unexpected switcheroo?

Action director Peter Berg, who had been talking with DreamWorks about taking on the studio's futuristic robot boxing movie "Real Steel," has moved on, opening up the gig to Shawn Levy.

Levy is known for directing and producing broad, hit comedies such as the two "Night at the Museum" movies, which have grossed nearly $1 billion in worldwide box office.

But the "Real Steel" story line takes place in a near future where human boxing has been outlawed, and heavy, humanoid robots slug it out in the ring instead. Into this world step a father and his estranged teenage son, who train an extraordinary fighter.

Levy's participation could mean a change in tone for the adventure project and/or a stretching of the creative muscles for the director, who has signed on with DreamWorks to take a swing at it.

DreamWorks originally purchased the project in 2003. It would be distributed by Disney. The project began generating heat this summer when Berg ("Hancock") started circling it.

The director ultimately decided to concentrate on two Universal projects -- an adaptation of the Hasbro game "Battleship" and the Afghan war story "Lone Survivor" -- so DreamWorks partner Steven Spielberg called Levy last week to ask if he were interested.

"Steven's passion for this project was absolutely infectious and I'm so excited to bring this story to life," Levy said. "In a movie filled with these mechanical warriors, at its core 'Real Steel' is an incredibly human story."

Levy is finishing up his latest comedy, "Date Night," which Fox will release in April. He has a dozen other projects in development as a director and producer through his 21 Laps Entertainment banner.

(Editing by DGoodman at Reuters)

 
<p>Director Shawn Levy arrives for the premiere of "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington May 14, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts</p>