While director J.J. Abrams is deep into post-production work on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sony Pictures is finalizing a deal for him to produce a secretive, untitled sci-fi project through his Bad Robot Productions company. The project will mark the directorial debut of Chris Allender, who is best known for directing a short film entitled Eye of the Storm. Sony won the project in a competitive bidding situation, with Lionsgate and STX Entertainment also vying for the rights.
No story details have been confirmed, but Deadline reports that the project is being compared to Bad Robot's Cloverfield, since it has a contained budget and involves aliens. Cloverfield launched the directorial career of Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), and Bad Robot hopes to do the same for Chris Allender with this project. Bad Robot is based at Paramount, but when the studio wasn't moving forward with the project, J.J. Abrams convinced the studio to let it go, leading to the deal with Sony.
Justin Doble, who has written for Bad Robot shows such as Almost Human and Fringe, wrote the most recent draft of the screenplay. Along with the script, Chris Allender created a sizzle reel, a digital look book and a five-minute teaser scene that showcased his visual style and the action-heavy elements of the project. While this will be Chris Allender's feature debut, he founded Soapbox Films, a company which produces content to promote products.
This untitled movie is the third project Sony has picked up recently, following Jon Spaihts' Passengers, which has Keanu Reeves attached to star, and the NYPD corruption documentary The Seven Five. If a deal is finalized for this sci-fi movie, it is believed the studio will move forward aggressively to production, although it isn't known when shooting may begin. Check out Chris Allender's full Eye of the Storm short film below.