Lee Isaac Chung In Talks To Direct ‘Twister’ Sequel For Universal And Amblin

EXCLUSIVE: Following an extensive search that had a number of top directors chasing the job, sources tell Deadline that Oscar-nominated Minari director Lee Isaac Chung is in early talks to helm Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s Twisters, the sequel to the blockbuster Twister. Warner Bros., which released the 1996 pic, will co-finance. Mark L. Smith penned the script, with Frank Marshall producing through his Kennedy/Marshall banner.

Deadline first reported in October, execs and producers on the project, especially Steven Spielberg, flipped for the script Smith delivered to the studio with ultimately being fast-tracked for a spring start. At the time sources said that the hope is to bring Helen Hunt back, with a drama that focuses on the daughter she had with the character played by the late Bill Paxton. She has caught the storm-chasing bug her parents had, (Insiders add no talent are in talks to star as the focus is to close Chung’s deal which is still in negotiations).

Best known for his work on the critically acclaimed and Oscar-nominated work on the A24 drama Minari, this project marks Chung’s first venture in to the big-budget tentpole genre and sources say his pitch really struck a chord with execs. Chung grew up on a farm in rural Arkansas and has his fair share of experiences of taking cover in storm cellars when a Tornado would hit land. This personal connection hit with execs and following one last in person last week, Chung became the top choice to land the job.

The original pic starred Hunt and Paxton, Twister and was a massive hit in 1996, scoring more than $494 million at the worldwide box office, thanks in no small part to the film’s ground-breaking special effects. The original film was helmed by Speed director Jan De Bont and executive produced by Spielberg, with a screenplay by author Michael Crichton. 

Executive VP of Production Sara Scott and Creative Executive Jacqueline Garell will oversee for Universal Pictures, and Ashley Jay Sandberg will oversee for Kennedy/Marshall. 

Smith most recently penned the upcoming drama Boys in the Boat which George Clooney directed. He also penned the script to the Netflix pic Midnight Sky, which Clooney also directed and starred in.

Chung is represented by CAA and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein. Smith is repped CAA.

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