In a curious albeit understandable move, Non-Stop and The Shallows filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra has opted not to direct Warner Bros.’ DCEU sequel Suicide Squad 2. The director has been eyed by many studios for a number of projects as of late, but when he emerged as the frontrunner to helm Suicide Squad 2 it seemed likely he was going to join the DCEU as Warner Bros. works to course-correct (somewhat) in the wake of Wonder Woman’s success.
However, per Deadline, Collet-Serra has now signed on to direct Jungle Cruise for Disney, an adaptation of the popular theme park ride that Dwayne Johnson has been developing as a star-vehicle since 2015. In making Jungle Cruise his next project, Collet-Serra now withdraws from the running to helm Suicide Squad 2, leaving Warner Bros. still on the hunt for a filmmaker for the DCEU movie.
David Ayer has been confirmed as not returning to direct Suicide Squad 2, and Warner Bros. initially approached Mel Gibson for the gig before moving on to Collet-Serra. Other names previously in the mix were Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies) and Daniel Espinosa (Life), who may resurface, as well as Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) who has since moved on to directing Venom for Sony.
Deadline says that the allure of crafting an action-adventure franchise from the ground up, in the vein of Indiana Jones, was more appealing than stepping into an already established franchise, so Collet-Serra settled on Jungle Cruise over Suicide Squad 2. The Disney film will be set in the 1920s, using The African Queen as inspiration, and the idea is to emulate the success of Pirates of the Caribbean. J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek Beyond) wrote the most recent draft of the script.
Johnson was aiming high for Jungle Cruise, revealing recently he wanted Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) to direct. This now firms the movie up as one of Johnson’s next projects after he completes the original blockbuster Skyscraper, which is shooting now, and Disney is no doubt happy to firm up a film on Johnson’s incredibly busy development slate.
But the biggest bummer about this news is it puts Johnson’s involvement in Shane Black’s Doc Savage in doubt. Black has been developing a film based on the pulp novels for a long time now, and that hero is also somewhat in the vein of Indiana Jones—an adventurer in the 1930s and 40s with smarts, charm, and brawn in equal measure. Black is in post-production on The Predator but had hoped to get Doc Savage off the ground in the wake of Iron Man 3. But with Johnson taking on a similar character type in Jungle Cruise, which is now firming up as a “go” project, not to mention the upcoming Jumanji, it seems unlikely he’ll do the same for Black in Doc Savage, putting that film’s future unfortunately in doubt.
But you can now add Jungle Cruise to Disney’s growing slate of live-action films based on existing IP. With Dwayne Johnson firmly in the fold, the Mouse House is yet another step closer to ruling the world.