Considering the poor performance of Robert Zemeckis’ Mars Needs Moms—and his recent, defiant plans to make both another motion-capture film and make it about garden gnomes—we’re not sure when the question of Robert Zemeckis’ next movie became such a big deal. But even for those who think he hasn’t made a film worth caring about this much since Back To The Future, this news may be of some interest: Vulture reports he’s negotiating with Warner Bros. to direct Replay, a film based on the 1987 Ken Grimwood bestseller of the same name that concerns time travel. (Like all Zemeckis-related announcements these days, we are obligated to clarify that it’s live-action, with real people and everything.)
However, most similarities to Back To The Future pretty much end there, as Replay is really more of a dramatic thriller, concerning a radio broadcaster who dies of a heart attack in 1988 and wakes up in his 18-year-old body in 1963, then cycles through those same 25 years again and again, making different life choices, but always dying at the same time in the same way. In a funny coincidence, one of the story’s major plot points hinges on BTTF executive producer Steven Spielberg, who indirectly points the protagonist toward his soulmate and thus the discovery of fellow “replayers,” which leads to various tangles with the government and other twists.
Years ago, Replay was tipped as an obvious inspiration for Groundhog Day, which suggests Source Code also probably played into the current pitch—which is better than “a more thrilling Peggy Sue Got Married,” anyway—although really, an actual Replay film has been under development nearly ever since it was published, with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts both attached to star at one time, and an offer out most recently to Ben Affleck to direct. Whether it might finally get made this time seems to hinge on Zemeckis, whose other potential return to live action is the Denzel Washington-starring Flight, about a Sully Sullenberger-like pilot whose heroic reputation after saving his passengers from a crash is tarnished after it’s revealed he was flying while on drugs and alcohol. Anyway, Vulture seems to think Replay will be first for Zemeckis then Flight, for what it’s worth. We’re not sure where the gnomes fit in.