I often wonder what studios look for in their hired guns. Case in point: Jeff Wadlow, director of the tolerable Cry_Wolf and the miserable Never Back Down, who, according to The Hollywood Reporter, has been tapped to direct The Tomb for Summit Entertainment. The Tomb is billed as a prison-escape movie with a MacGyver-like protagonist who uses smarts and ingenious devices to escape from a high-security prison that he himself designed. Summit hopes to make the action-packed film into a franchise cash cow.

I've seen both of Wadlow's movies (the first of which, Cry_Wolf, was made with the money he won in the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Competition), and his m.o. seems clear: slick, blandly good-looking, montage-heavy genre flicks. So in some ways it makes sense for Summit to pin its franchise hopes on him: when you're gambling on a movie, inoffensive competence behind the camera may be your safest bet. Like any cinephile, I wish studios would be a bit more adventurous (and thus cringe whenever a bold move -- putting Ang Lee in charge of Hulk, for example -- backfires at the box office), but as a business decision it's perfectly rational.
What makes it slightly more surprising is that Summit's last go-round with Wadlow -- the teen martial arts disaster Never Back Down -- didn't exactly take off; it looks to just recoup its production costs in domestic release. But I guess the proven ability to bring in a movie on time and on budget counts for a lot.

In any case, Wadlow is also attached to direct a heist thriller called Hail to the Thief for Focus Features. I get the uncomfortable feeling that he's another Brett Ratner in the making.