Robert Zemeckis in Talks to Direct Time-Travel Film REPLAY

     April 29, 2011

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Could Robert Zemeckis finally be returning to live-action? And with a time-travel film to boot? It appears so, as Vulture reports that the director is in ”serious talks” to helm the adaptation of Ken Grimwood’s novel Replay. The thrilling premise centers on a radio journalist in his forties who dies, but awakes back in 1963 in his 18-year-old body with all of his previous memories intact. The kicker? He always dies in 1988, but returns to 1963 to start the whole 25 years over again with every single memory intact and the ability to make different life choices (spouse, kids, etc.)

This sounds like a fantastic concept, and a return to form for the Back to the Future director. Following the demise of his motion-capture Yellow Submarine remake, Zemeckis has been tooling around with a couple of live-action flicks. Most recently, he entered early negotiations to helm Flight with Denzel Washington. Hit the jump for more on both projects, as well which one Zemeckis might film first, and a synopsis of the novel Replay.

replay-book-coverThe script for Replay, by Jason Smilovic (Lucky Number Slevin), has been lingering around Hollywood for a while. Ben Affleck apparently flirted with directing the project before moving on to Argo, and now the project is at Warner Bros. with Zemeckis. I’m all for this. I count myself among the many who found Zemeckis’ motion-capture obsession a bit creepy, and when the guy’s behind the camera for a live-action flick the results are almost always unique. In fact, his last live-action film was 2000’s Cast Away.

In addition to Replay, the director is also planning on directing Flight with Denzel Washington in loose talks to star. The report states that with uncertainty over when/if Washington will finally commit to the project, Zemeckis is poised to film Replay first, then come back to Flight. He’s also toyed with the idea of the long-in-gestation Who Framed Roger Rabbit? sequel. Whichever project goes first, I’m just elated that Zemeckis is coming back to live-action. Color me thrilled.

Here’s the synopsis for Replay:

In this intriguing fantasy adventure, Jeff Winston, a failing 43-year-old radio journalist, dies and wakes up in his 18-year-old body in 1963 with his memories of the next 25 years intact. He views the future from the perspective of naive 1963: “null-eyed punks in leather and chains . . . death-beams in orbit around the polluted, choking earth . . . his world sounded like the most nightmarish of science fiction.” But Grimwood has transcended genre with this carefully observed, literate and original story. Jeff’s knowledge soon becomes as much a curse as a blessing. After recovering from the shock (is the future a dream, or is it real life?), he plays out missed choices. In one life, for example, he falls in love with Pamela, a housewife who died nine minutes after Jeff; they try to warn the world of the disasters it faces, coming in conflict with the government and history. A third replayer turns out to be a serial killer, murdering the same people over and over. Jeff and Pamela are still searching for some missing part of their lives when they notice they are returning closer and closer to the time of their deaths, and realize that the replays and their times together may be coming to an end. [Amazon].

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