It appears that a reunion between Joaquin Phoenix and his Signs and The Village director M. Night Shyamalan is not in the cards after all. Word surfaced in August that Phoenix was eyeing the starring role in Shyamalan’s next untitled film, but THR now reports that James McAvoy is in negotiations to lead the picture instead. Phoenix never got to the deal making stage and was merely having preliminary conversations with the filmmaker, but the prospect of the duo reteaming was curious, especially since Shyamalan is coming off his successful jump to low-budget filmmaking with The Visit.
Details on the director’s next movie are, unsurprisingly, being kept under lock and key in a chest somewhere deep in the forest, but it is described as a supernatural thriller and is being produced by Blumhouse, who produced The Visit. That horror film saw Shyamalan toying with the found footage genre to generally positive reviews, so the collaboration between filmmaker and studio appears to have been fruitful.
It’s no surprise that Phoenix ultimately passed on the project. He’s notoriously picky (when the results are so good, it’s hard to argue with his methods), although he has been considering delving into blockbusters recently having entered prolonged negotiations with Marvel for Doctor Strange and also fielding an offer Star Wars: Episode VIII. As of now, he has no projects on the immediate horizon.
McAvoy, meanwhile, most recently wrapped X-Men: Apocalypse and will be seen this fall in the twist on Mary Shelley‘s classic story, Victor Frankenstein, opposite Daniel Radcliffe. He’s a versatile actor with a wide range, so I’m curious to see what becomes of this collaboration with Shyamalan. The plan, as of August, was to begin production this November in Philadelphia, but it’s unclear if that timetable remains. Regardless, it’s possible we could see this new movie in theaters sometime in 2016.