Back in February, it was reported that the UK Production company Ecosse (Brideshead Revisted, Becoming Jane), had begun development on yet another Treasure Island movie, this one aimed at contemporary audiences, playing up the relationship between Long John Silver and narrator Jim Hawkins. The idea, it seemed, was to do for Treasure Island what Guy Ritchie did for Sherlock Holmes.
Well, what Guy Ritchie did for Sherlock Holmes couldn’t have happened if producer Lionel Wigram hadn’t put that into motion. He’s also producing one of the two Three Musketeers revivals currently in production (the one with Doug Liman circling), and my guess is that Lionel Wigram thinks he owns the market on updating 19th-century literature for contemporary audiences. The man doesn’t want to be cock-blocked.
Indeed, Wigram — via Warner Brothers and his production shingle, Wigram Productions — is developing a competing Treasure Island project. I’m guessing he doesn’t want to get beat to the punch. He got Sherlock Holmes in front of cameras before the competing Will Ferrell/Sacha Cohen Baron project could move forward, and he’s angling to get his Three Musketeers movie out ahead of the Summit production, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. And now, he’s well on his way to getting out ahead of the Ecosse production.
While Ecosse hired Niall Johnson (White Noise) to pen a screenplay for their production, Warner Brothers has had a finished script for nearly a month now. (The timing actually suggests that Warner Brothers had initiated development long before Ecosse). Warner’s script comes from Michael Gilio, a relative unknown whose only produced work is an obscure 2001 indie project, Kwik Stop. He does have another script in development called Black Hole, which Gore Verbinski is attached to (and what isn’t Gore Verbinski attached to these days?).
Warner Brothers is keeping plot details of this Treasure Island under wraps (and for good reason, if Niall Johnson is working on his script). What I do know is that, earlier in the development of this Treasure Island, Paul Greengrass was being considered as director. He’s since signed on to Fantastic Voyage, and while that presumably takes him out of the running for Treasure Island, we can speculate the the Gilio script would have befitted (befat?) that Greengrassian sensibility: Edgy, frantic, action-oriented, and smart. That’s the kind of Treasure Island I’d like to see, so here’s hoping Warner Brothers finds a director of that caliber.
For the unfamiliar, Treasure Island is a Robert Louis Stevenson novel about a boy by the name of Jim Hawkins who sails the high seas and battles against pirates in search of a buried treasure. There have been over 50 movies and television versions of the novel made, starring the likes of Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, and The Muppets.