Producer talks about how he plans to revive Sinbad for a new age

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

The legend of Sinbad the sailor has taken varied forms in cinema, from the 1947 Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler Sinbad the Sailor to the Ray Harryhausen spectacle The 7th Voyage of Sinbad to the animated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas in 2003. Rob Cohen was developing a new live-action version at Columbia to star Keanu Reeves in 2005, but he lost the gig after his Stealth bombed for the studio, by Cohen's own admission.

So if there's anyone who can get a modern Sinbad done, it's the director of Hairspray and producer of Step Up, right? Adam Shankman told a press conference that he is developing the latest Sinbad film at Sony, no longer with Reeves. "My next movie that I direct is either going to be an original musical or it'll be this giant Sinbad swashbuckling thing," Shankman said on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was promoting 17 Again.

The choreographer-turned-director could bring his musical influence to the action film, perhaps in a regionally appropriate Bollywood number. "I want to add a scene like that in Sinbad, because that period of all of that can really hold it in the color." The following Q&A features edited excerpts of Shankman's press conference.

How would you approach the big action genre of Sinbad?

Shankman: I would just approach the excitement of doing that. It's just thrilling to me, because I've worked on, even as a choreographer, hundreds of movies, it feels like, where I've worked on effects and all of that. Each project, what's on the page is what you do. I'm just not scared of material. It actually plays into a lot of my sensibilities that I have and my muscles that I haven't been able to use, like the Errol Flynn of it all and the fight choreography. This is all stuff within my skill set. I just haven't done it yet.

Is this the same Sinbad project that Keanu Reeves was going to do?

Shankman: It is the Sinbad that Keanu Reeves was going to do, but it's not at this point, to my knowledge, him.

Have you thought about casting yet?

Shankman: I have, I have. Nothing's been done. It's an interesting list. The nice thing is, with Sony, and kind of a nice thing with the business now, if you notice that movie stars in and of themselves aren't opening movies anymore. The people need to want to actually see the movies, not just because of who's in them. Amy Pascal's philosophy, and it was with Spider-Man, is "Sinbad is the title. That's what is bringing people in, so we don't need to have Will Smith play Sinbad. We don't require that to make this movie, like we did with Spider-Man, because Tobey Maguire became TOBEY MAGUIRE because of Spider-Man." We're looking for the right guy from the part.

Do you envision a lot of CGI or old-school practical effects?

Shankman: Oh no, no, no, it's a huge adventure fantasy. There are a lot of creatures in it, mythical stuff, so it's big.

Wouldn't there be some referential value to including some Harryhausen style?

Shankman: There might be. Not the way this script is written. If you go back and watch the Harryhausen movies, they are fun, but they're not good. You know what I mean? They're fun, and they're famous because of that initial work, but the Cyclops looks like Play-Doh. This is a $175 million movie, I think, so I don't think we're going for Play-Doh.

When would that start production?

Shankman: I'm getting the script this week, so fingers crossed.