Actor-director Jon Favreau was the talk of Hollywood in the wake of the box office success of Iron Man, which landed him gigs making the sequel and big-budgeted concept piece Cowboys & Aliens. Both of those films were regarded as disappointments, which is not entirely fair in Iron Man 2’s case since the film grossed over $600 million globally. Actually, Cowboys & Aliens was worse than a disappointment – it was a bonafide flop.
With those two films hanging around his neck like an albatross, Favreau is regrouping – and going smaller – in the next phase of his career, hoping to recapture some of that indie magic with a comedy entitled Chef.
According to Vulture, Favreau is looking to direct, write, and star in this tale of a temperamental chef running an L.A. eatery. We don’t know much more about the plot than that, but we feel like this is exactly what Favreau needs at this point in his career.
Making big-budget blockbusters is the dream of many filmmakers (even if they won’t admit it on the record for fear of looking like a sellout), but not every filmmaker is suited to making those kinds of movies. Favreau hit it out of the park with Iron Man, but the expectations were lower than they were with the sequel and Cowboys. There’s a lot of pressure in helming films with budgets of over $150 million, and there’s no shame in doing a few and then going back to make smaller films. The big-budget blockbuster might be every young director’s dream, but many who reach the summit of that mountain find themselves longing to make smaller, more personal, films. Favreau has that opportunity now.
Chef could be perfect for Favreau as he transitions into the next phase of his career. A small film that allows him to not only direct, but write and act, should help rejuvenate him after the rigors of working on potential tentpole productions and in the studio system. It’s the kind of project that could allow the filmmaker to get back to what appeals to him as a director and creator in the first place – and may even pave the way for his return to the blockbuster arena.
Whether it’s right or wrong to lay all of the blame for the disappointments of Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens (both real and perceived) at Favreau’s feet is debatable, but directors always shoulder the blame when a film fails and bask in the glory when it succeeds. It’s just part of the gig. That being said, Favreau has always come across as one of Hollywood’s good guys – and we’ll always love him for playing Mikey in Swingers. Because of that, we can’t help but root for him as he launches his next project.