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Ben Younger‘s passion for adrenaline helped him write and direct the 2000 financial drama Boiler Room.
Now it has nabbed the filmmaker his first major studio writing assignment, an untitled car-racing adventure for Warner Bros. and producers Jennifer Fox and Polly Johnsen.
It was actually the star of Younger’s first movie, Ben Affleck, who introduced him to racing with the gift of a motorcycle — which Younger promptly crashed.
“[Affleck’s] insurance paid for it,” Younger tells THR from New Jersey Motorsports Park. “I hadn’t even transferred ownership.”
But Younger, who also made the 2005 Meryl Streep dramedy Prime, has been racing ever since. Maybe too much: Rumors began circulating that he had quit Hollywood to drive full time.
So at the behest of his reps (CAA, Ziffren Brittenham), he came to L.A. and talked to Warners exec Jon Berg about his passion project, the racing drama Isle of Man. Berg determined Younger was right for a project then-called Formula One, which had been eyed as a biopic of racing legend Ayrton Senna.
Younger is reworking the story as an adventure set in the modern racing world, without the cliches of pics like Days of Thunder. (He offers John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix as a touchstone.)
For the first time, Younger is creating scenes as big as he can dream. “I’m used to writing movies where I have to scale back,” he says. “But this is a $150 million movie. This is not the time to skimp on set pieces.”
Racing movies seem to be speeding to a resurgence, with the latest being Paramount’s last week pick up ofSlingshot, a car rally feature project with Jeremy Renner attached to star and produce.
“I think the people are drawn to the autheniticy of real racecraft, whether it’s Formula One or the rally racing,” said Younger. “It’s so physical and so real when you compare to everything else now whehther you’re downloading apps or playing video games. Everything is so removed but this is still so visceral, so dangerous, so real.
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