It took Joe Johnston a while, but he finally scored a big win. After the box office and critical disappointments of Hidalgo, Jurassic Park III, and The Wolfman, cash and acclaim came in the form of Captain America: The First Avenger, a film that gave empirical proof to Johnston‘s talents as a big-budget director. From that point on, odds were that he could have the pick of just about any $100 million property he wanted.
So it’s no small shock that, today, THR reported that Johnston had been signed to direct a $2.5 million dollar “micro-budget thriller.” The film, Not Safe for Work, is being produced by Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Wettest County) and his shingle, Blumhouse Films. It’s been written by Adam Mason and Simon Boyes (Luster), and focuses on a paralegal who gets trapped in an office with a killer working for another corporation to destroy sensitive files.
The move makes a certain kind of sense for Johnston, who might want a slight break from the rigors of filming special effects and action-heavy movies, though he did come up through VFX work early on in his career, working on films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back. Rumors also still persist (most noticeably on his IMDb page) that Johnston will direct the long-rumored fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. Still, I think he’s got the juice to make an interesting film out of this well-trod, cloistered-killer material, and I look forward to seeing what he does when there’s no special effects to serve as a distraction to nuts and bolts storytelling.
What do you think of Johnston’s great step backward in terms of budget? Shrewd move, or a missed opportunity at capitalizing on his success?
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