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Roger Avary Moves Forward with ‘Castle Wolfenstein’ and John Cusack-Starrer ‘Airspace’

Written by on November 1, 2012 

Having had some major legal trouble and, creatively-speaking, only stalled project after stalled project, these past few years have been none too kind to Roger Avary. After this period – one that had me thinking he was completely done for – though, signs point toward the Killing Zoe helmer doing the impossible and making a real, genuine comeback. Even if he doesn’t get to that point, there might be something with his name on it, playing in a theater; after so many delays, that’s about as much as he could ask for.
First, Variety reports that Davis Films Productions and Panorama Media are reigniting development on the long-gestating video game movie Castle Wolfenstein, which Avary has frequently been on tap to write and direct. Being (somewhat ironically) compared to Inglourious Basterds (for its depiction of Nazis) and Captain America (for its retro future design), the picture follows an American Army Captain and British Special Agent sent to Castle Wolfenstein, a ridiculously German-sounding residence whereat Hitler will unveil a new occult finding. (If you’ll remember that exposition scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark…) Before you can say “sauerkraut,” a fight with the SS Paranormal Division and the Axis’ own paranormal findings soon escalates, putting the two into a battle “that could alter the course of WWII.”

Years ago, reports claimed Castle Wolfenstein would base itself upon the 2001 game Return to Castle Wolfenstein, a property I remember being both very, very high-concept stuff and all-around good fun. Which doesn’t mean a great deal, of course. That sense of entertainment doesn’t always (read: practically never) translates into the cinematic medium; Avary’s own track record doesn’t instill massive confidence, either, but this long-held commitment should, in whatever way, signal his own hopes of making something with flair.

Bigwigs will decide for themselves during The American Film Market, when Castle Wolfenstein makes appeals to major studio. Since some talks are already underway, according to reports, there might even be news on this front in our near-future.

Afterward, Variety then tell us Avary has something else waiting in the (ahem) wings: a John Cusack “aerial action-thriller” titled Airspace, which is also seeking backers at AFM. While the idea stems from Briana Hartman and Michael B. Chait — the former’s completed a screenplay that the director’s glancing over — this final result might end up owing something to Steven Spielberg.

That’s because Duel comparison has arisen for Airspace, and the connections are really quite blatant. Despite changes in setting, it has a familiar set-up: a pilot (Cusack) who, upon making his way back home, is attacked by a well-equipped MiG fighter jet and must fight for survival. It’s not just some common, random MiG attack, either, as it turns out the protagonist is in possession of a briefcase with sensitive contents.

Sounds like a good time, actually, so let’s hope the logline isn’t all Airspace has up its sleeve. Those holding the checkbooks will, again for Avary, decide its fate, with Scooty Woop Entertainment making appeals.

Is it good to see Avary back with a few projects? What do you make of them?

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