Director Shawn Levy confirmed that Wolverine star Hugh Jackman is a front-runner to star in Real Steel, a sci-fi movie based on a story by Richard Matheson, which Levy describes as "a father/son action drama set in the near future, surrounding the sport of robot boxing."
Robot boxing? We're in.
In a world where robot boxing has replaced the human version, Jackman would play a Rocky-esque character looking for one last shot. "Hugh Jackman plays a former boxer who can therefore no longer do the only thing he was ever good at and has to make his way in this new world," Levy said in an exclusive interview Tuesday in Los Angeles, where he was promoting the DVD/Blu-ray release of his Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. "It's faithful to the story in that that story was very much about a down-on-his-luck, slightly desperate journeyman who works in this robot boxing sport and who is desperately needing redemption and one last shot. The movie is more Rocky than Transformers."
Levy has not cast the main character's son yet but has a good idea about the robots. "They are most definitely not Transformers, not Terminators, definitely not WALL-Es, either," Levy said. "Unlike a lot of these others, these are human-built, human-scale fighting machines. They are built for human spectacle. People in this movie have gotten bored with human carnage and human violence. So in the quest for more, more, more, this sport has evolved to this."
Producer Steven Spielberg offered the project to Levy, the director of such family fantasies and comedies as Museum, The Pink Panther and Cheaper by the Dozen. Levy saw Real Steel as an opportunity to stretch his muscles.
"When I sat down with Steven, I had a very, very specific vision of this movie, one that really puts the emphasis on the story and the sports-movie aspect as much as on the machinery," Levy said. "Real Steel is my first non-comedy. I will likely come back to comedy. It's certainly been very, very good to me. But like anyone who does anything, freshness and new experience is what keeps you interested. So when Steven called and said, 'Hey, you want to do this thing?' I was like, 'Hell yeah, I'm looking for a different experience.'"
Real Steel is due in 2011. Levy gave interviews on the 20th Century Fox studio lot, where he showed bonus features for the Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian DVD and Blu-ray, including a mockumentary spot with the Jonas Brothers, a feature devoted to the film's monkey and extended improvisations cut from the final film. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian drops on DVD/Blu-ray on Dec. 1.