phil lord chris miller

Development: Lord and Miller take on machines, Once Upon A Time creators renew deal, and more

Contributed by
May 22, 2018

Welcome to SYFY WIRE's latest round-up of development news in Tinseltown. The former Solo directors have found solace in fighting against machines, the Once Upon A Time creators will remain at ABC for the foreseeable future, and Ron Howard's getting into the family film business; more than he already is, of course...

First up, Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) seem to flourishing after their Lucasfilm firing. In addition to directing an upcoming adaptation of Andy Weir's Artemis, the duo will help produce Sony's The Mitchells vs. the Machines, writes The Hollywood Reporter. The movie will revolve around the Mitchells, a dysfunctional family, that must fight against an army of machines, when everyday technology turns on its human creators.

Helping the family save the world are two friendly robots and an obese pug. You can't make this stuff up. Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe (both Gravity Falls alums) wrote the screenplay, with Rianda handling directing duties. The Mitchells vs. the Machines will be Miller and Lord's fourth collaboration with Sony Animation after the two Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (out December 14).


Over at ABC, Once Upon A Time creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis have not only renewed their contracts through 2022 with the network, but have attached themselves to their next project. According to THR, they will be replacing Bryan Fuller as showrunners on Apple's reboot of the Amazing Stories anthology series, which was originally created by Steven Spielberg. Fuller reportedly left the project over creative differences, wanting to make a darker, Black Mirror-esque series, which was not what Apple had in mind. 

In the vein of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories ran in 1985 on NBC for a total of two seasons and 45 episodes. The title was a reference to the science fiction pulp magazine founded by  Hugo Gernsback in the 1920s; Gernsback is legendary within the genre and his first name lends itself to sci-fi's most prestigious award, the Hugo. Some of the episodes of the first show were directed by Hollywood legends such as Spielberg, Joe Dante, Robert Zemeckis, Brad Bird, and Tobe Hooper, and Martin Scorsese. Guest stars ranged from Weird Al Yankovic, to Bob Balaban, to Patrick Swayze. 

Amazing Stories will be Horowitz and Kitsis's first series since Once Upon A Time, which ended last Friday. 


And finally, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's production company, Imagine Entertainment, has partnered with Warner Brothers for family-oriented fare. The five-year partnership also includes Australian visual effects company Animal Logic Group, whose credits include The Matrix300, Happy Feet, The Lego MovieGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Alien: Convenant.

“We are so excited about our new partnership with Warner Bros and continuing our collaboration with Animal Logic to bring family friendly films to a world audience. Warner Bros’ success and experience alongside Animal Logic’s creative and technological innovation provides us limitless opportunity to create visually stunning and emotionally resonating films in this highly coveted space,” said Grazer and Howard in an official release provided to SYFY WIRE. 

Under the arrangement, all three companies will co-finance animated and "hybrid" family movies, the latter most likely meaning projects like Peter Rabbit, which mix live-action and CGI in the same space. While credit under the deal will vary with each movie, all of them will be distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures. And yes, the James Corden vehicle got its animation from Animal Logic as well. 

“This new partnership brings together an innovative slate of family films being developed by Animal Logic and the incredibly talented team at Imagine, with 20 years of highly successful collaboration between Animal Logic and Warner Bros,” said Animal Logic CEO Zareh Nalbandian. “I know that the calibre of talent and experience we will tap between Imagine, Animal Logic and Warner Bros. will ensure that we continue to bring fun, emotional and inventive animated and hybrid movies to family audiences around the world.”