After languishing in development hell since 2011, Warner Bros. is moving forward once again on their Cannonball Run remake, with Doug Liman in early talks to direct. The last we had heard about this project was almost exactly a year ago, when the studio brought in Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence) to direct, but this new report reveals that a deal was never struck with Thurber. Liman will now be working from an existing draft by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (Night at the Museum franchise), although the studio is said to be seeking a new writer.
Both The Cannonball Run (1981) and Cannonball Run II (1984) were directed by legendary stuntman/filmmaker Hal Needham, with the first written by Brock Yates, who created the actual race the movie series is based on. The original Cannonball Run was actually not a race at all, with only one "team" participating, Car & Driver magazine writer (and race car driver) Brock Yates, his son Brock Yates Jr., Car & Driver editor Steve Smith and their friend Jim Williams, on May 3, 1971. This cross-country run was intended to celebrate the U.S. Interstate system while also protesting new stringent traffic laws.
The race was officially run four more times, on November 15, 1971, November 13, 1972, April 23, 1975 and April 1, 1979. The race started on the East Coast, in either New York City or Darien, Connecticut, ending at the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California. The race was officially named the "Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash" in honor of George Erwin "Cannonball" Baker, who drove coast-to-coast in 53 hours 30 minutes in 1933, a record that stood for 40 years. After the last Cannonball Run, a new race called the U.S. Express was formed but it only lasted a few years.
The first Cannonball Run movie was a huge hit, featuring a stellar cast including Burt Reynolds, Dom Deluise, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Adrienne Barbeau, Jackie Chan, Peter Fonda and Terry Bradshaw, to name just a few. The Cannonball Run earned $72.1 million during its theatrical run, which doesn't sound like much now, but in 1981, it was the sixth highest grossing movie of the year, and when adjusted for inflation, would equal a $237.8 million in today's market. The 1984 sequel Cannonball Run II dropped off considerably, earning just $28 million.
Doug Liman directed a pair of films last year, Roadside Attractions and Amazon Studios' The Wall, and Universal Pictures' American Made. The filmmaker is currently in post-production on his new film Chaos Walking, and he is attached to make an Edge of Tomorrow sequel entitled Live, Die, Repeat and Repeat, along with other films such as Attica and Luna Park. Deadline reports that Warner Bros. obtained the remake and sequel rights from the original rights holders, Brock Yates, the Hal Needham Estate and Fortune Star LTD, with Albert S. Ruddy and Raymond Chow serving as executive producers.