"Zombieland" director weighs flurry of offers

Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:29am EDT
 
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By Steven Zeitchik

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - With the undead of "Zombieland" stalking the box office, one person involved with the picture may be enlivened more than any character on the screen: director Ruben Fleischer.

The first-time feature filmmaker's name is on the lips of producers and executives around town, as he weighs a mix of options. It's a wide-ranging list for the 34-year-old commercials and music-video veteran.

Fleischer is loosely attached to direct a comedy called "Daddy's Home," though people familiar with the Paramount project say there is no formal deal in place. The film, envisioned as a starring vehicle for Will Ferrell, centers on a divorced man whose ex-wife is re-married to an uptight man (possibly Ed Helms), and the comedy that ensues when the divorcee re-appears on the scene.

Fleischer is also on the shortlist to take over Fox's in-flux "Neighborhood Watch," a sci-fi comedy that Ferrell and director David Dobkin left over the summer. (The studio is also looking closely at another emerging director, Rob Letterman of "Monsters Vs. Aliens" reknown.)

And the "Zombieland" director has been mentioned in association with "21 Jump Street," a reboot of the Johnny Depp TV series about undercover cops in U.S. high schools and colleges. Like "Zombieland," "Jump Street" is also a Sony project, though the prospects for Fleischer's involvement on that are considered remote.

In about ten days of release, "Zombieland" has earned $47 million, with film veterans noting that Fleischer was able to combine several genres in the picture, making him a versatile commodity, and also create a moneymaker at a relatively modest budget.

Fleischer is the latest rising director to find himself with studio offers all over town, joining the likes of Pierre Morel ("Taken"), Seth Gordon ("Four Christmases") and Marc Webb ("(500) Days of Summer").

Jumping from zombies to the various genres and genre hybrids in front of him may seem like a switch.

But Fleischer actually is less rooted in the horror world than other directors of zombie pictures: He landed the gig without being, by his own admission, a horror nerd, and he educated himself on the pictures before starting on the project.

(Editing by DGoodman at Reuters)