Cameron Crowe to direct 'Zoo'

Film is adaptation of memoir; released December 2011

Cameron Crowe is returning to movies for the first time since 2005's "Elizabethtown."

The filmmaker signed on to direct "We Bought a Zoo," an adaptation of a memoir by Benjamin Mee, being produced by Julie Yorn.

Crowe is notoriously picky about his projects and had been circling "Zoo" since the winter.

Once he dedicated himself to the project, he began rewriting the script, originally written by Aline Brosh McKenna, to reflect is sensibilities

The studio liked the direction enough to commit to the movie over the weekend and has dated it for December 23, 2011. 

"Zoo" tells the true account of how Mee and his family used their life savings to buy a dilapidated zoo, replete with 200 exotic animals facing destruction, in the English countryside.

Mee, along with his children, had to balance caring for his wife, who was dying of brain cancer, with dealing with escaped tigers, raising endangered animals, working with an eclectic skeleton crew and readying the zoo for a reopening.

The author also was the subject of a BBC documentary titled "Ben's Zoo."

With Crowe on board, Fox plans to move fast to cage an A-lister to play Mee.

The release date and the subject matter marrying cute animals and dramatic storylines are similar to Fox’s 2008 box-office smash "Marley & Me," and the studio is hoping emulate that success.

Though not a very prolific filmmaker, CAA-repped Crowe has written and directed films such as "Say Anything," "Jerry Maguire" and "Almost Famous," which have tended to become part of the pop culture lexicon.