Back in July, we reported that Chris Evans had come aboard to star in a big screen adaptation of Jekyll, based on the hit 2007 BBC One mini-series of the same name, written by Doctor Who and Sherlock creator Steven Moffat and starring James Nesbitt. Today we have word that the project has found a director, with Zombieland filmmaker Ruben Fleischer coming aboard to take the helm. With this project moving forward, it also sets up a competitive situation with Universal's potential Dr. Jekyll spin-off starring Russell Crowe.
Back in May, before Russell Crowe was confirmed as Dr. Jekyll in Universal's The Mummy reboot, a report surfaced that there have been discussions at Universal for a future spin-off involving his Dr. Jekyll character. That was never confirmed by Universal, but this report from Deadline indicates that the spin-off is still in the works, which will come after Dr. Jekyll in The Mummy, the first movie in Universal's monster reboot universe, debuting in theaters June 9, 2017.
The original Jekyll mini-series starred James Nesbitt as Tom Jackman, a modern-day descendant of Dr. Jekyll, who is beginning to show signs of his iconic relative's split personality disorder. He abandons his wife and children without any explanation and lives in a basement with a psychiatric nurse to try and keep his other half, Mr. Hyde, at bay to protect his family. Both personalities try to co-exist in the same body, with each one leaving recorded messages for the other, since neither Dr. Jekyl nor Mr. Hyde can remember what the other personality does. The original mini-series cast also included Gina Bellman, Paterson Joseph, Denis Lawson, Linda Marlowe, Michelle Ryan and Gemma Baker.
The Jekyll screenplay will be written by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry, who both worked with director Shane Black on this summer's action comedy The Nice Guys, which starred Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. They will work with director Ruben Fleischer on the script, but it isn't known if this will be the director's next film. He is also developing a long-gestating sequel to his 2009 hit Zombieland with Sony Pictures reportedly working on deals for original stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin to return and reprise their roles from the original. The Jekyll production start date may also depend on Chris Evans' availability, since he is shooting Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel back-to-back.
The original Robert Louis Stevenson novel that Dr. Jekyll originated from is currently in the public domain, which means both studios can pursue these projects without worrying about rights issues. Ruben Fleischer has also directed 30 Minutes or Less and Gangster Squad, but he has been keeping busy on the small screen as of late. The filmmaker has directed four episodes of NBC's Superstore, including the pilot, along with the pilot episode of ABC's American Housewife. He is also attached to direct the feature The Regional Office is Under Attack.