Director Shawn Levy Considers Exiting 'Fantastic Voyage' as Will Smith Courted to Star (Exclusive)

Getty Images
Shawn Levy, left, and Will Smith

Sources say Levy is looking at other projects amid challenges finding the right cast for the big-budget sci-fi movie produced by James Cameron.

Will Shawn Levy decide not to take Fox’s Fantastic Voyage?

Levy, the director of Night at the Museum, Date Night and the upcoming robot boxing pic Real Steel, has been attached to helm the big-budget re-imagining of the 1966 sci-fi movie. But sources say that momentum on the project has slowed a bit because finding the right cast has proven tough, and that Levy has begun to look at other projects. The situation could work itself out, but sources close to Voyage, which is not greenlighted, say it's more likely than not that Levy will move on.

Voyage revolves around a team of scientists who are shrunk to atomic size and sent in a miniature submarine inside the body of a scientist to save his life. James Cameron is producing with his Lightstorm Entertainment partner Jon Landau. The pricey, CGI-heavy project has been a priority for Fox, which has a rich production deal with Levy’s 21 Laps Entertainment and has released several successful Levy films, including the Night at the Museum movies, Cheaper By the Dozen and Date Night.

Paul Greengrass (Bourne Identity) was at one point tipped to direct it before Levy came on board earlier this year.

But Levy is said to want an A-list star to topline Voyage, and Fox is not necessarily wedded to the idea of a huge name (and huge salary). A source says Levy has set a meeting with Will Smith in the next couple weeks. If the actor agrees to sign on, Levy would almost certainly stay with Voyage, and Fox likely would not flinch at casting one of the few proven box office draws. If Smith passes (or Fox can’t make a deal), and another mutually-agreeable star can't be found quickly, sources say Levy would be inclined make another film his next directing project.

The prolific director/producer certainly has options. Among the projects Levy is looking at: Fox's own Frankenstein movie and Disney's Maleficent, a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of the princess’s evil nemesis. He also is an active producer through 21 Laps, which has Ben Stiller’s Neighborhood Watch in pre-production, among other projects.

Fox and a rep for Levy declined to comment. Sources at the studio say they are hopeful that Levy stays on Fantastic Voyage.


Twitter: @THRMattBelloni, @Borys_Kit