When it was announced back in October that Oscar nominated director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings) was attached to write and direct the adaptation of the PlayStation 3 exclusive game, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, it seemed as if the project was on track and doing things right. Video game adaptations have not had the best of luck—in fact most of them could be used to torture terrorists for information as an alternative to waterboarding—but simply not hiring Uwe Boll was a good step, and hiring someone with the Hollywood clout that Russell is packing was a great sign.
Then things got weird. Russell brought in his frequent collaborator Mark Wahlberg to play the main character of Nathan Drake, and the story began to expand. The game featured the treasure hunter Drake, his partner Sully and the resident love interest/damsel-in-distress Elena, as they searched for the treasure of Nathan’s ancestor, Sir Francis Drake.
Russell’s vision had Drake as part of a world renowned family of art-collectors and dealers that was rumored to include Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. The family would be globetrotters and jet-setters, mixing with power merchants, heads of state and glamorous people around the world while seeking lost treasures.
As the gap between the story of the game and the proposed movie grew, so too did the budget, which also increased the distance between what Sony wanted and what Russell planned. Then in May it was announced that Russell had left the project.
It seemed like Uncharted may have entered the dreaded development hell, where many a’ good movie has gone to die quietly and ignominiously. But with the popularity of the games, the hype surrounding the third title which is due out this November, and Sony’s determination to make a movie based on a video game that is actually good (we hope), the property is still alive and well, and Comingsoon.net is reporting that Russell’s replacement has been found. Columbia Pictures has confirmed the news as well.
The new writer and director for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune will be Neil Burger who recently directed Limitless starring Bradley Cooper, but he might best be known for 2006’s The Illusionist (which he also wrote) starring Ed Norton. Burger is currently working on Bride of Frankenstein, which is due out next year, so it isn’t clear if he will leave that project or begin work on Uncharted after it is completed.
With Russell gone, it also seems unlikely that Wahlberg will take up the role of Nathan Drake. So good news, internets! A new round of speculation on who should play the character of Drake can begin. Given Burger’s work, it seems almost impossible to avoid including Ed Norton and Bradley Cooper in the conversation, whether or not either are interested, and you can also expect another groundswell of support for Nathan Fillion. Expect to hear all three actors, plus many more mentioned in the coming weeks and months.