A sci-fi movie that has taken two decades to produce will finally have its day on the big screen.
You can say one thing about Hollywood: It doesn't always give up that easily. While countless projects fall down the rabbit hole known as "development hell," there are times when a film somehow stays alive -- even despite a revolving door of directors, stars, screenwriters and sometimes even studios.
Such is the case with Gemini Man, a thriller about an assassin who is forced to fight a clone of himself who is younger (by 25 years), stronger and faster than him. With Ang Lee (Life of Pi) agreeing to step behind the camera for the project a few weeks ago, and Will Smith now confirmed to star, the movie has been given a release date of October 4, 2019, by Paramount-based production company Skydance, which has also produced and financed movies like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the last two Star Trek sequels, World War Z and others in conjunction with the studio.
Gemini Man was first set up at Disney in 1997. Over the ensuing two decades, directors like the late Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential), the late Tony Scott (Deja Vu) and Joe Carnahan (The Grey) came and went on the project, with stars such as Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage all attached at one point or another as well (see below for a proof-of-concept reel that Carnahan made to sell his idea of casting Eastwood). A-list writers like David Benioff (Game of Thrones), Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) and Brian Helgeland (Mystic River) have all taken passes at the script.
So what has been the major stumbling block all this time? The visual effects -- it seems that no one felt the technology was there yet to realistically create a younger version of the lead actor. But with de-aging tech making enormous advances during the past several years (see Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War and Hugh Jackman in Logan for recent examples), the time for Gemini Man has apparently come.
Smith will play both roles in the film, with the older assassin going on the run and attempting to find out why the younger version -- which is hunting him -- exists.
Lee has dabbled in sci-fi before with 2003's Hulk, but more importantly, he's pushed the envelope of cinema technology with many of his films, including Life of Pi and last year's little-seen Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. It will be interesting to see what he does with Gemini Man, and at last we can find out on October 4, 2019.