Friday, May 2, 2008
Whatever Happened to Kerry Conran?
Kerry Conran was the creator of what has become one of my favorite fun movies, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). Sky Captain was Conran's pet project, a movie which he conceived and attempted to cobble together single-handedly on his home computer. He labored for a few years to produce a short proof-of-concept trailer, which he then shopped around to the studios in search of money to finish the film. It attracted the attention of director / producer Jon Avnet, who agreed to take the project on. Conran, with Avnet playing mentor, made his directorial debut with it.
The film tells the story of a swashbuckling ace P-47 pilot (Jude Law in the title role) who saves the world from an army of mysterious flying robots. It's a comic book story made real by movie magic, the first movie shot entirely on green screen. In fact, there's almost nothing real on the screen except the flesh-and-blood actors for the entire movie, and it's the triumph of Conran and company that they still manage an engaging--and visually most compelling--story in the process. Set in 1939, the movie has both the look and the feel of an old black and white adventure flick, using an antique color palette and displaying a Style Moderne world that Deco designers only dreamed of. Through Jon Avnet's influence (and that really compelling proof-of-concept video), Conran was able to assemble a dream cast: Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Giovanni Ribisi, Angelina Jolie, Michael Gambon, Bai Ling. Not bad for one's first jump out of the gate. Even Sir Laurence Olivier was (technologically) resurrected from the dead for a role as the mysterious Dr. Totenkopf.
Though a movie of this type could not expect to turn the film world on its ear, it garnered generally favorable reviews and was solidly successful at the box office. There was talk of a sequel or prequel almost from the moment the movie was released. One salivated for more.
And then... nothing.
Conran appears to have been lined up to direct an adaptation of some Edgar Rice Burroughs story, but he was dropped in favor of Jon Favreau (and the project itself seems not to have happened). And after that he seems to have just fallen off the face of the earth. My snooping around IMDB and Wikipedia and my Google and Yahoo searches find nothing not related to Sky Captain from the time of its release. Even a search of a Sky Captain sequel only lands on four year old material.
Lately I find myself in a Sky Captain mood, and it causes me to wonder about all this.
Anybody have any ideas?