In his 61 years of life, Ron Howard has known many roles: the invisible voice of narration on beloved sitcom Arrested Development, apple-cheeked tyke Opie Taylor of The Andy Griffith Show, and, most commonly, the directorial hand behind some of Hollywood’s most cherished recent gems. Aside from consistency of overall quality, the one constant in the sad-eyed director’s long filmography has been change. The veteran filmmaker appears to have a unquenchable thirst for exploration, trying his hand at a stage adaptation here and a broad comedy there (Frost/Nixon and The Dilemma, respectively), a pair of character-driven dramas with live-wire Russell Crowe in the lead (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man), and that’s just since the dawn of the new millennium. Currently, he’s prepping his historical epic In the Heart of the Sea for its Dec. 11 release, but any director worth his salt always has a project on the back burner. For a filmmaker as determinedly varied as Howard, anticipating what that next project might be is a blind guess. But a new report from Deadline has clarified all, locking in Howard’s next film.
It turns out that Howard’s blockbuster adaptation of The Da Vinci Code held the key to his future all along. (Surely we could’ve seen such clues if we had only closely scrutinized ancient temples or eloped with the Mona Lisa or whatever it is that Tom Hanks does in The Da Vinci Code.) An exclusive report from Deadline has confirmed that Universal has purchased the rights to the unreleased novel The Girl Before with Howard attached to direct. Deadline also provided a brief plot summary of the J.P. Delaney-penned novel, slated for printing in fall 2016:
…a traumatized woman falls in love with an extraordinary minimalist house and with the man who designed it. But when she discovers that three years earlier another damaged woman died here, she starts to wonder if her own story is just a re-run of the girl before.
They’re probably speaking figuratively, but I would be 100 percent in favor of a Her-type film in which a woman falls in love with a sentient house. Ooh, or maybe a Smart House-style project where the house is the bad guy instead of the romantic lead, and tries to kill our heroine once the house realizes their human-edifice love can never survive in our repressed society. Though the chances of Howard going with either of these options seems less than likely, this is still promising news. The immediate point of comparison would be the similarly-titled Gone Girl, another project that appended a talented director to paperback pulp and found nasty brilliance waiting within. Regular folks grab thriller novels when they need something to do at an airport; Ron Howard picks them up when he feels like making millions.