Two months ago, there were rumors circulating that director Cameron Crowe, the Oscar-winning writer of Almost Famous who also received a nomination for his screenplay for Jerry Maguire, was looking at directing an adaptation of Benjamin Mee’s bestselling memoir We Bought a Zoo from a script by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada). It was reported by New York Mag’s Vulture that he was circling the script and that was picked up quickly by other news sources.
A few new things have arisen since then that seem to confirm that Crowe has made a decision in the interim and will be making We Bought the Zoo his first movie since Elizabethtown in 2005.
Based on Mee’s own experiences, the book with the full title… you might want to sit down for this one… “We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever”… tells how the columnist for London’s Guardian newspaper moved to a run-down mansion with his extended family, inheriting a wildlife preserve with 200 wild animals in the process. At the same time, Mee’s wife had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The first thing that confirms this project has a director was the announcement today by 20th Century Fox of a release date for the movie on December 23, 2011, essentially the same slot where they put the similarly-themed true-life memoir movie Marley and Me, which went onto huge box office success.
What clinched it for us was when we were looking for more info on this project and found something hidden on Variety–who never even reported Crowe’s interest in the project–that listed bookings and signings for the production people on various projects. We learned there that production designer Clay Griffith, who ironically was the set decorator on Jerry Maguire, had been booked on Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo”. (IMDb Pro has both Crowe and Griffith listed as being attached to the project as well.)
It’s not often that a story like this gets so little attention, especially considering how long it’s been since Crowe has directed a film, but it you want to get a headstart on Crowe’s new movie, you can pick up Mee’s novel at Amazon.