Well it seems that all sorts of shenanigans are afoot today. When it rains it pours, I suppose. The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Brad “Three for Three” Bird has signed to direct 1906, the long-rumored project that will mark Pixar’s first venture in the world of live action filmmaking.
The film, based on the 2005 novel by James Dalessandro, will be co-produced by Disney/Pixar and Warner Brothers. Bird will re-write the screenplay, the current draft of which was written by John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator and – uh oh – Star Trek: Nemesis. Just kidding, John – I blame Berman for that one). Says the Reporter:
The story centers on a college student who begins to investigate the murder of his father, uncovering a web of deceit that has left the city vulnerable to the sort of fire that breaks out when the Great Earthquake of 1906 hits San Francisco.
Bird had previously explained the draw of the story to the Reporter:
“At the time, Chinatown was coexisting with the Barbary Coast, which was like the Wild Wild West, and at the same time Nob Hill had the upper class. It was a time between two centuries. You had horses and cars existing simultaneously. It’s just a volatile mix of things and then you throw in an earthquake. I mean, come on, if that doesn’t buy popcorn …”
The project has been an open secret for quite some time, as Bird had been working on it for a few years before he was asked to take over the director’s chair on Ratatouille. After that Oscar-winning diversion, he has returned to work on what will be his first live-action film. We’ve not spoken much about it here, as details were vague on where exactly Bird would be making the film. This confusion was due to the fact that the book’s rights were owned by Warner Brothers; the solution, apparently, has been to make the film an odd Disney-Pixar-Warners co-production. This is especially ironic considering it was Warners that practically buried Bird’s brilliant The Iron Giant, thus depriving audiences of a chance to see one of the best animated films ever made.
It’s unknown where the film will be shot and what each studio’s contribution will be; it had been speculated previously that the film would be used to set up a live action division at Pixar that will also be necessary for Andrew Stanton’s John Carter of Mars.
In any case, this is the second exciting bit of news from Disney today and it’s great that Bird is finally getting a crack at live action. Bird is a true lover of film, and has often spoken about how unnecessary lines of demarcation have been drawn between the animation and live action communities. He has expressed a desire to move between types of media as the story demands, and it looks as if he’ll be getting a chance to do just that. It’s another big step for a brilliant director who is fighting the good fight to destroy artistic stereotypes and to allow a wider range of storytelling styles and themes in animation and film.