Robert Zemeckis to Direct 'Marwencol' for Universal

The film will adapt the 2010 documentary about a man's unique way of coping with severe memory loss.
A still from the documentary "Marwencol"   |   marwencol.com
The film will adapt the 2010 documentary about a man's unique way of coping with severe memory loss.

Robert Zemeckis is developing a new drama as as follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Flight.

Universal has optioned the 2010 documentary Marwencol, which tells the unique story of Mark Hogancamp and the way he coped with the severe memory loss he suffered after he was attacked and beaten by a group of teenagers. As part of the deal, Universal also picked up Hogancamp's life rights.

The project is coming to Universal with a script by Caroline Thompson, and Zemeckis is attached to direct.

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The beating Hogancamp suffered at the hands of five teenagers was so severe that it left him in a coma that lasted nine days. When he emerged, he had no memory of his life, his friends or his family. As a form of therapy, he began building a one-sixth scale model of a World War II-era Belgian village in his backyard, replete with figures made in the image of him, his friends, and, shockingly to some, his attackers. While the process mends his mind to a certain extent, it also lets him escape into a fantasy world in which he creates various scenarios with the figurines.

The documentary, which ended up on many best-of lists, also showed how fragile Hogancamp's world was when the New York art scene became interested in his work and wanted to display it to the public.

The planned film aims to move between and blend fantasy and reality, something that Thompson has an affinity for, judging by her past credits. The scribe co-wrote Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas as well as an adaptation of the classic novel The Secret Garden. She last wrote the adaptation for City of Ember.

While no castings have been made, sources say Zemeckis is hoping to lure Leonardo DiCaprio for the lead.

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ImageMovers will produce under their Universal-based banner. VP production Maradith Frenkel and creative executive Chloe Yellin will oversee the project. Jeff Malmberg, the director of the 2010 documentary, will executive produce.

Zemeckis is repped by Gang Tyre. Thompson is repped by ICM Partners and Hansen Jacobson.

Watch the trailer for the documentary below.