Fans of Rango take heart – filmmaker Gore Verbinski is currently in development on not one but two new animated features, and he’s got a familiar (and brilliant) collaborator in tow. The The Ring director made the leap to blockbuster filmmaking with 2003’s smash hit Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and after the complicated and grueling process of filming the next two Pirates sequels back-to-back (also to great success), Verbinski took a bit of a left turn and decided to make an animated feature as his follow-up film. The result was an Oscar-winning new classic.
2011’s Rango uses Western tropes to great effect to tell the story of a pet chameleon who is mistaken for a tough drifter and is tasked with being the sheriff of a town that desperately needs help. The film won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and brought a striking, cinematic visual palette to life with the help of legendary Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins.
So when Collider’s own Steve Weintraub spoke with Verbinski recently for an exclusive interview tied to Rango’s 10th anniversary, he was thrilled to learn that the director is plotting his return to the animation realm.
“I’m working on two animated movies that I can’t really talk about,” Verbinski revealed. “I’m working on two screenplays… they’re both animated movies. They’re not Westerns. One is a musical.”
Verbinski cautioned, however, that it’s still early days on the projects. “These are so many years out. They take so long that I just… I mean, it’s way too early to talk about them.”
The filmmaker didn’t have many more details than that, but he did reveal that Deakins will be involved in these new animated films. “He was like my first call on these two animated movies I’m making now,” Verbinski said. “I was like, ‘Roger, are you in?’ So one of them I’ve pitched him in detail, so he’s going to be coming back and helping us out… really in the shot production of it. He’s busy. He’s very busy.”
Deakins, one of the greatest cinematographers who’s ever lived, is certainly known for his live-action work in films ranging from Fargo to The Assassination of Jesse James to Blade Runner 2049, but has had a hand in consulting on animated films like WALL-E, Rise of the Guardians, and the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. Quite simply, though, the prospect of him reteaming with Verbinski – on a musical especially – is delectable.