Back in 2008, DreamWorks announced a sprawling, multi-platform project called The 39 Clues that involved books, trading cards, interactive online games, and a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Catch Me If You Can scribe Jeff Nathanson was brought on to adapt the script from the first book in the series, called The Maze of Bones, which follows two kids who discover they are part of the most powerful family in history, one that counts Houdini and Napoleon among its members. They set off to discover the titular clues that can create the most powerful person on Earth.
Predictably enough, Spielberg had to back out of the project – he’s a busy guy, after all – but he’s brought on a protege of sorts, hiring Real Steel director Shawn Levy to take over.
Against all expectations, I actually loved Real Steel and I’m excited to see what Levy can do with another huge franchise like this one. Nathanson’s involvement is a bit less encouraging, but he has written a few movies I enjoyed (Rush Hour 2, the aforementioned Catch Me If You Can), so I’ll remain hopeful that he can fix adapt this globe-spanning story with a proper sense of adventure.
Family franchises can be great when they’re executed well, and despite my apathy toward the Night at the Museum franchise, Levy’s work on Real Steel was a turning point for giving the director the benefit of the doubt…for a while, anyway. Let’s hope he can pull this off by bringing enough enjoyment for people of all ages to dig it and not just children. Interested?