More than two months after Darren Aronofsky dropped out of directing "The Wolverine," 20th Century Fox is considering eight candidates, a diverse group that includes helmers both with indie pedigree and tentpole experience.
Studio is considering Jose Padilha, Doug Liman, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Romanek, Justin Lin, Gavin O'Connor, James Mangold and Gary Shore (largely a commercials director) to helm the Hugh Jackman-toplined actioner, multiple sources tell Variety.
Directors Gavin Hood -- who directed the first "Wolverine" pic -- and Aronofsky, whose artistic films include "Black Swan" and "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream," initially showed that the studio was open to picking directors more well-known for prestige films than commercial fare. Latest list demonstrates that while Fox is still receptive to directors best-known for their indie chops, like a Romanek or Padilha, they're also looking closely at directors with popcorn-flick credits.
While some of the contenders have yet to direct a big summer tentpole, each -- except for Romanek and Shore -- has had success directing some sort of actioner.
Liman's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" grossed more than $470 million worldwide in 2005, while Lin's "Fast Five" has been Universal's most successful pic since "Despicable Me."
Mangold recently directed "Knight and Day" with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz for Fox, which earned more than $260 million globally, and also directed "3:10 to Yuma" with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.
Fuqua comes from more of an action background having directed WB's "Training Day," "King Arthur" for Jerry Bruckheimer and "Tears of the Sun." Lionsgate will release O'Connor's "Warrior" later this year; helmer also directed 2008's "Pride and Glory" starring Colin Farrell and Edward Norton.
Padilha directed "Elite Squad 1" and "Elite Squad 2" and is also attached to direct MGM's reboot of "Robocop."
Writer Christopher McQuarrie penned the script to "The Wolverine," which largely takes part in Japan, sources say. Aronofsky's departure from the film came shortly after a tsunami devastated the country last year, although his exit was not attributed to the disaster. Moving forward, however, most sources connected with the film say the floods and earthquakes at least complicated plans to shoot the pic, which currently has no release date.-Joey's Two Cents: I would have preferred Duncan Jones, as was rumored previously, but all of these guys can get the job done...thoughts?