Tradecraft: Steven Soderbergh Seeks To Launch New Female-Driven Spy Franchise
Luc Besson is about to have some competition in his little cottage industry of turning out big Eurospy-style action hits on modest budgets. Ocean's 11, 12 and 13 director (as well as The Good German and lots more highbrow fare, of course, and next week's Matt Damon industrial espionage comedy The Informant) Steven Soderbergh will try his hand at the action spy genre according to Michael Fleming in Variety. The trade reports that the helmer "has committed to next direct Knockout, a spy thriller that will mark the screen starring debut of Gina Carano, the mixed martial arts circuit fighter." Further details sound promising:
Scripted by Lem Dobbs, Knockout casts Carano as a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is given a second chance to use her skills for constructive purposes. The film is a closer cousin to La Femme Nikita and Kill Bill than Million Dollar Baby, in that it doesn’t take place in the fight ring. Rather, Soderbergh considers the film as a flat out action film in the James Bond mold, and will shoot in locations around the world that include Ireland, Turkey and the U.S.
I like the locations. Despite starring a non-actor (like Soderbergh's most recent film, The Girlfriend Experience, which cast porn star Sasha Grey in her first mainstream film role), Soderbergh's name and talent lends a lot of credence to this project. This is the sort of movie that in the 80s would have gone direct-to-video in the U.S. (like most Cynthia Rothrock fare), but today attracts top directors. I like that change in the industry!
The film is being fully financed by Relativity Media with a domestic distributor expected to fall quickly into place. Soderbergh aims to begin production in January, and he'll cast lots of name actors to support newcomer Carano. Soderbergh is forgoing his usual upfront salary, instead opting for an ownership stake in the character shared with Relativity. It's a rare arrangement, and essentially the same one the Broccoli family enjoys with MGM. If Carano's character really turns out to be the next 007, that deal could prove quite lucrative indeed!
On a more personal note, I just noticed that this little news item is my 1,000th post here at the Double O Section. That's another big milestone, coming hot on the heels of last week's 200,000th hit and in advance of next month's three-year blogiversary. Very exciting! Man, that's a lot of writing...