Reitman, Wilson say 'Bonzai'


Rainn Wilson and Jason Reitman are donning their ninja suits for "Bonzai Shadowhands."

Fox Searchlight has picked up the dark comedy, which Wilson is now writing as a starring vehicle for himself and which Reitman will direct. Reitman and his Hard C partner Daniel Dubiecki will produce, and Wilson will serve as executive producer.

While plot details are being kept under wraps, it is known to be about a once-great ninja who is now living a life of mediocrity.

Wilson met Reitman when the former was in Vancouver working on "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," which was being directed by Reitman's father, Ivan.

"I was in a Starbucks, and a young fellow walked in and he said to me, 'Hi, you don't know me, but my name is Jason Reitman, and I'm Ivan's son. I want to do a movie with you, and would you play a ninja?' " Wilson recalled. "I felt like I was discovered at Schwab's."

The two spent the next several months honing the pitch before taking it to Fox Searchlight, where Reitman's Hard C shingle is based. Execs Lawrence Grey and Jeremy Steckler brought the project in and will oversee.

Wilson is now writing the script while he is on hiatus from the NBC comedy "The Office," in which he plays one of the show's breakout characters, the fascist assistant Dwight. Production on the show is set to resume in mid-January.

"Bonzai" is Wilson's first screenwriting gig, and he said he plans to enlist his "Office" mates for help. "I am going to take my outline to all of the writers and one by one get their ideas and feedback, and by the end of that, it'll be kick-ass in a way only a ninja can kick ass," he said.

Reitman said he hopes that "Bonzai" ends up being the first film from his and Dubiecki's label -- which they set up at Searchlight in March in the wake of Reitman's success from his directorial debut, "Thank You for Smoking" -- something that will define their brand: "small subversive comedy that is independent but accessible."

As such, while "Bonzai" will be a comedy, the tone will be somewhat serious. "It's 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' meets 'Midnight Cowboy,' " said Reitman, adding, "We wanted to do something that was more than a light comedy. We feel it could be a movie that had something to say."

Reitman, repped by WMA, is in preproduction on "Juno," a comedic drama starring Ellen Page. Production is scheduled to start at the end of January.

Wilson's next feature outing will be in New Line's "Mimzy," being directed by Bob Shaye. He is repped by WMA, 3 Arts Entertainment and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.