News out of the Berlin Film Festival has Taika Waititi signing on to direct Bubbles, Isaac Adamson’s Black List script about the life of the late Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee. According to Deadline, he will be co-directing the stop-motion animation feature with Mark Gustafson and the film is being developed with Dan Harmon’s Starburns Industries. Harmon’s company also financed Charlie Kaufman’s Oscar-nominated Anomalisa, and Bubbles is looking to follow in the footsteps of that film’s serious look at humanity. Rocket Science is shopping the film to U.S. distributors at Berlin.
Waititi and Gustafson seem like perfect choices to helm this project based on their quirky-yet-dark past work. Waititi was nominated for an Oscar back in 2004 for his live-action short Two Cars, One Night and has since gone on to direct Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, What We Do in the Shadows (the highest rated comedy of 2015 on Rotten Tomatoes), Hunt for the Wilderpeople (#2 highest rated comedy of 2016 on Rotten Tomatoes), and has recently finished directing his first big blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok.
Gustafson has worked on such films as Wes Anderson‘s Fantastic Mr. Fox and Claymation Easter (for which he won a collaborative Emmy) and is co-directing the live-action Pinocchio with Guillermo del Toro.
It’s an idea that fascinates me and one I want to develop further,” Waititi said in a comment. “Most people know I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, so the main thing for me is to make sure it’s respectful of him and his legacy. I’m not interested in making a biopic; I want to focus on telling a story that blends fact and fantasy, about an animal trying to make sense of the world.
This film is not about Michael Jackson because that’s not a story for me to tell — or a story I’d be comfortable telling — it’s about a chimpanzee’s fascinating journey through the complex jungle of human life. I think animation is the only way to approach a story like this. I really loved Anomalisa because it was beautiful and authentic in its meditation on loneliness. I’m really excited to be working with Dan Harmon and Starburns as we share similar sensibilities and want to tell human stories in unique and artistic ways.