The studio’s pre-recorded Cannes market presentation featured a conversation between AGC boss Stuart Ford and Morel, who discussed the action thriller’s international potential, particularly with its young lead now cast. The film is set to go into production in September.
More from Variety
Jonas plays Wes Loomis, a go-to weapons expert for the intelligence community who goes on the run after his lab is destroyed and his colleagues murdered. With the aid of a young CIA analyst, Noelle Hazlitt, Wes seeks out his mentor, Mather (Laurence Fishburne), a retired blacksmith, to guide Noelle and him as they look for answers.
“I’m a James Bond fan and my big question as a kid was, what would it be like if Q had to do the mission himself?” explained Morel. “Since our hero in ‘The Blacksmith’ is a modern Q, I was blown away. This [is a] guy who can invent stuff and make up every device you can imagine…but is not a hero and isn’t supposed to be in the field.
“All of a sudden, he is thrown into mayhem and has to deal with the situation, [but] with all this knowledge and not with his muscles. That was key to my interest,” said Morel.
Morel’s directing credits — which were presented in a short sizzle ahead of the discussion with Ford — include “Taken,” as well as John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyer’s “From Paris With Love,” Sean Penn and Idris Elba’s “The Gunman” and the Jennifer Garner-fronted “Peppermint.”
Former IM Global boss Ford said the film, which will be delivered in Q3 of 2021, has “all the elements of a contemporary action thriller, but with a really fresh, identifiable new action hero. The character is one millennial audiences will gravitate towards.”
The executive also noted that “The Blacksmith” could present distributors who have had success with “older, male-skewing action” films an opportunity to reboot.
“[This gives them the chance] to say, ‘We had a great run, but the audience is evolving.’ The competition from streamers [means] a lot of their content is millennial…’The Blacksmith’ has a lot of the fun aspects of the action films, but it will be so much more marketable to the bigger audience.”
Produced and fully financed by AGC, the film will shoot in Toronto, with soft prep already underway. The role of Noelle is expected to be cast in the next month.
Morel highlighted that this film — his first feature since 2018’s “Peppermint” — will rely on CGI effects more than his previous directorial efforts. “It is in today’s world, but using devices that don’t exist. The idea is to make the scope bigger than I usually do, which will allow for bigger effects, destruction and devastation.”
The London and Los Angeles-based AGC optioned the script for “The Blacksmith” last year. Jon Shestack (“Air Force One”) will produce with Kickstart Productions’ Jason Netter (“Wanted”), and Jeremy Stein, with AGC’s Ford and Linda McDonough executive producing. Samantha Shear and Bob Sobhani will also executive produce.
Best of Variety