I’ll tell ya, when Sylvester Stallone is working with the right director, he can still deliver the goods as a movie star, as we saw in Ryan Coogler‘s Creed. Which is why I’m not so quick to dismiss his next project, Samaritan. Not only does the premise intrigue me, but Julius Avery (Overlord) just signed on to direct the film for MGM, and his hiring is already a step in the right direction.
Announced earlier this year, Samaritan is a thriller about a young boy on a mission to discover whether a mythic superhero, who vanished 20 years earlier following a tragic event, is still alive. I mean, obviously, we know he’s still alive, as there wouldn’t be a movie if it turned out the superhero had died of old age, but I like the idea of exploring a hero’s psyche. If a superhero failed to save the day, or more specifically, the life of a loved one, how would that affect them? I have no idea how deep Samaritan will penetrate, but Avery’s hiring is a strong sign that there may be more to this material than meets the eye.
Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room) wrote the original screenplay and will serve as an executive producer on the film, which Stallone is producing with his Balboa Productions partner Braden Aftergood. It’ll be the first project out of the gate for Stallone’s new company, so clearly he has confidence in the idea. Production is slated to start early next year.
Stallone currently stars in Rambo: Last Blood, and he has also teamed with MGM to develop a biopic about boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champ.
But the real story here is Avery, who impressed me with his feature debut Son of a Gun starring Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites and Alicia Vikander. He followed that up with Overlord, which may not have been a home run, but was generally well-liked by critics and audiences. Unfortunately, Paramount never quite figured out how to market the film, and it ended up sinking at the box office. Avery had lined up some pretty big projects, including the superhero movie The Heavy at J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot and the crime drama The King of L.A. at Ridley Scott‘s company Scott Free, and I know of at least one studio that had him in mind for a major franchise, but it looks like Samaritan will be next up for the Aussie filmmaker, and hopefully it’ll lead to bigger and better things. He just needs to identify what is special about Schut’s script and make sure that finds its way to the big screen.
Avery is represented by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Deadline broke the news of his hiring.