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Brad Bird's 1906

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It sounds amazing and could have a wider impact on the film industry.

This is a project that Bird has been working on before he took over the reins on Ratatouille and will be his first foray into live action. Based on the novel of the same name by James Dalessandro this is the story of an earthquake that hit San Francisco in...1906.

Every disaster has a backstory, none more thrilling than this one. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning tale of political corruption, vendettas, romance, rescue—and murder—is based on recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Told by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Victorian-era city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle—fought even as the city burns—that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor. With the appeal and texture of The Alienist, Carter Beats the Devil, and the novels of E. L. Doctrow, James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.

Bird is nothing if not ambitious to tackle something like this for his first live action film but assuming the budget is big enough this could look stunning. The idea of a massive scale natural disaster at the turn of the last century should be quite spectacular on the big screen. This is what he said to The Hollywood Reporter at the Oscars:

“At the time, Chinatown was coexisting with the Barbary Coast, which was like the Wild Wild West, and at the same time Nob Hill had the upper class. It was a time between two centuries. You had horses and cars existing simultaneously. It’s just a volatile mix of things and then you throw in an earthquake. I mean, come on, if that doesn’t buy popcorn …”

Now here comes the part which could have a wider impact on the industry: It sounds as if this will be made under Pixar or a sub-division of the studio.

Not only will this be the first non-animated film to be made by them but it will mark a shift into more adult territory. Back in the '80s Disney created Touchstone Pictures to release more mature fare without impacting on the Disney brand and perhaps Pixar are contemplating similar moves. John Carter of Mars is another project that could well fit into this new division and maybe even Brad Bird's long gestated Ray Gunn could finally get the greenlight. If any studio has the clout to make more adult animation in the West a serious possibility then it is Pixar.

Pixar's involvement in 1906 means that most of the effects should be done in-house and they are more likely to nurture the project as they are fully aware of Bird's considerable talent.

Assuming this does get the go ahead expect to see it in 2010/11.

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It's ON - From /film

Brad Bird has officially signed on to make his live-action feature directorial debut in a co-production between Warner Bros and Disney/Pixar. Based on James Dalessandro‘s 2005 novel 1906, Bird is rewriting the original script penned by John Logan. The assumption is that Pixar will be providing the computer generated effects. Here is the official plot description from the book’s cover:

Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning historical novel reveals recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Narrated by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Post-Victorian city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle fought even as the city burns that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor. James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.

Bird is a two-time Academy Award winning director of animated films: 2004’s The Incredibles and 2007’s Ratatouille. He was also responsible for the unsuccessful but critically acclaimed 1999 film The Iron Giant.

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According to Blue Sky Disney this is in trouble due to the cost.

Bird has turned in at least two drafts and is awaiting a decision. Several Bothans [Matt's note: I have no idea what"Bothans" are; if I had to guess, I would say it's an alien race in Star Wars] that I talked to are starting to express doubt that it’ll ever come to pass. Not that it isn’t a great script that would make a great film, but the length and size of the budget make some at Warner very nervous. Think of it as a project of “Titanic” proportions and yes I meant the innuendo.

This was one film I was really looking forward to so it would be a real shame if it didn't see the light of day. I always assumed that the finance had been sorted already and it was deep into pre-production.

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Odd. Pixar are bankable, and besides if it does end up sucking, most recent big budget films on the receiving end of a critical savaging have escaped with gross intact. It's definitely new ground for all involved, but if they do it right the payoff could be absolutely massive. I would've thought after Avatar, the industry would be in a risk-taking mood.

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