Zemeckis has spent the last decade working on elaborate motion-capture animated films like 'The Polar Express,' 'Beowulf' and 'A Christmas Carol.' He's had some success in the genre -- the three films have grossed over $400 million domestically -- but it's nice to see him return to working with flesh-and-blood performers. Zemeckis's work with Tom Hanks, for example, has brought the actor two Oscar nominations (for 'Forrest Gump' and 'Cast Away') and one win ('Gump').
The director had been attached to the Paramount drama 'Flight,' which was to star Denzel Washington. But with Washington not yet signed on for 'Flight' and currently filming 'Safe House,' it seems likely Zemeckis will move forward with 'Replay' first and return to 'Flight' later.
Based on the bestselling 1987 novel by Ken Grimwood, 'Replay' tells the story of 43-year-old radio journalist Jeff Winston who dies of a heart attack in 1988 only to reawaken as an 18-year-old in 1963. When Winston wakes up, he retains everything he learned in the 25 years between his days as an Emory University student and his death. Though he always dies in 1988, each time Winston wakes up in the sixties, he can make different choices, resulting in different spouses, children and jobs. Thing become even more twisted when Winston discovers that he may not be the only one this phenomenon is happening to.
Cinema Blend notes that Zemeckis has only made three films in the last decade and that filming 'Replay' and 'Flight' back-to-back seems out of character for the filmmaker. However, the three films he has completed ('Polar Express,' 'Beowulf' and 'Carol') have all been costly motion-capture films that take a great deal of time to produce. Zemeckis has also been at the forefront of creating the new technology necessary to film in that format.
While he is known to take his time, often for the sake of special effects and technological innovation, Zemeckis can turn out two massive films in short order when he puts his mind to it. The director shot his 2000 film 'Cast Away' in two parts and took a year-long break in the middle of production so Tom Hanks could lose over 50 pounds to portray a man who had been stranded on a desert island for several years. During the break, he used the same crew to film the entirety of his hit ghost movie 'What Lies Beneath.'
The result? 'Cast Away' went on to gross over $409 million worldwide and 'What Lies Beneath' pulled in $155 million in the U.S. and another $136 million overseas.