‘Zombieland’ Writers Want Big Effects, Will Smith for ‘Earth vs. Moon’

Nearly two years after would-be blockbuster “Earth vs. Moon” was snatched up following a bidding war between four studios, the writers of the red-hot script have become even hotter. But, now that they’re better known as the creators of “Zombieland” and have sequels in the works to that film, “G.I. Joe” and “X-Men” character Deadpool, where does that leave the sci-fi epic – and their hopes to someday film it with Will Smith?

“’Earth vs. Moon’ is in the background,” explained writer Rhett Reese, when we interviewed him along with partner Paul Wernick and asked for an update on the long-simmering project. “We’ve written a first draft. We’ll be writing a second draft at some point.”

So, if everyone loved the script in early 2008, what’s the hold-up? “It’s really big; bigger than you might imagine, it’s even bigger than that – it’s a big, monster of a movie,” explained Reese, whose “Zombieland” is now flying off DVD and Blu-Ray shelves. “And yet, at its core it has some real heart.”

The film is based on a concept by Stephen Hawking of all people – who has spoken about the human need to colonize other worlds and set up back-up societies that could correct the mistakes of our experiences on this planet. From that unlikely source, Wernick and Reese have conceived a film that would pit Earth’s residents against a colony of moon settlers, in what would basically be a civil war.

“It’s set in the future,” Reese explained. “It’s about a war between Earth and a colony on the moon that was established as a means of first colonization by Earth.”

“It’s about a fractured family – some of the family members are on the moon, some are on earth – so it has a real personal feel to it,” he continued. “It’s also grand in scope, it’s got a lot of cool weapons, a lot of cool action, and we’re happy [with its development]. We’re going to keep on improving it, and get it into theaters.”

How big will the movie be? Well, Reese and Wernick say that there will be a need for some impressive special effects – and in their mind, there’s one international superstar who could topline the project and get it to the right tentpole-level. In fact, they’re so eager to land the actor that they even named their main character Will.

“It’s something we’ve always wanted Will Smith to do – we really wrote the character for him, so we hope [his participation] happens at some point,” Reese said. “[We would be] the star; he’s on earth…an earthling.”

“[With modern CG], we can write anything and they can make it happen – but for a reasonable budget, that may not be the case,” he added, admitting that although the movie is high-concept, a good director could make it work. “You don’t want to write a small movie with a big action scene sitting in the middle of it…when you approach your movie, you have to have budget in mind…so that you don’t get completely nuts, and between that you can be completely free with your imagination and do crazy stuff. Because the visual effects people – ‘Avatar’ has proven – can literally do anything. Anything you can imagine, they can do – which [for writers] is very freeing.”

What do you think of the “Earth vs. Moon” concept? Would you like to see it become a Will Smith vehicle?