Zack Snyder at helm of new Superman movie

Mon Oct 4, 2010 7:06pm EDT
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By Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Zack Snyder has been chosen to direct the new Superman movie, which Christopher Nolan is producing for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures.

Snyder had been on the list of filmmakers ensconced in meetings with Nolan and Warners executives, who in recent weeks have talked to Darren Aronofsky, Ben Affleck, Matt Reeves and Tony Scott.

The job was so coveted that even Robert Zemeckis, retired to the world of performance-capture animation, considered returning to live-action filmmaking in order to nab the gig.

The Superman movie is one of the studio's top priorities, not only because it serves as the linchpin for its line of films based on DC Comics superheros, but because Warners needs to be in production on a new Superman movie by 2011 or risk losing certain copyrights to the heirs of creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel. (That litigation is still pending.)

Nolan, who revived Batman for the big screen with 2005's "Batman Begins" and the 2008 hit "The Dark Knight," teamed up with David Goyer for a new a way to revive the last son of Krypton. Despite grossing $200 million domestically, the last movie about the Man of Steel, 2006's "Superman Returns," was considered a disappointment, and a hoped-for franchise launch never flew off.

Part of the problem stems from Superman's origins: The character for decades was a beacon of positive qualities, and his stories usually were painted in black-and-white. So from the point of view of a certain audience segment, Superman isn't hip enough for a time that prefers its heroes more morally ambiguous.

Goyer is writing the script, which is rumored to have, like "Superman Returns," a connection to Richard Donner's Superman films of 30-odd years ago. In this movie's case, it's a villain connection: General Zod, who was played by Terence Stamp in "Superman" (1978) and "Superman II" (1980).

Snyder has become one of Warner Bros.' favorite filmmakers since he directed the surprise smash "300," the adaptation of the Frank Miller comic book. He followed that with "Watchmen," the adaptation of the seminal Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons miniseries, and is now putting the final touches on his original work "Suckerpunch," which is slated to open March 25.

Snyder just made his animated feature debut with "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole." The movie opened softly but is generating strong word-of-mouth, with box-office receipts having fallen only 32 percent in its second week.

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters.)

<p>Zack Snyder, the director of the upcoming Warner Bros motion Picture "Suckerpunch", poses for a picture at Comic Con in San Diego, California July 24, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>