It may have taken the series eightteen years in video game form to finally get the attention of Hollywood, but a film adaptation of Need For Speed is now a reality. Rumors had been circling for some time, but Dreamworks Studios has today announced that they’ll be working with some interesting talent, along with producer Electronic Arts, to bring a brand new adventure inspired by the high-octane racing that fans have come to associate with the series name.

Those fans won’t have to wait long, as production on the Need For Speed film is being “fast-tracked” to begin early next year, for a planned release in 2014.

The publisher has been doing their best to make a compelling case for NFS as a feature film product, given the marketing style of last year’s Need For Speed: The Run. While Michael Bay crafted commercials for the game, he won’t be the director on the project. Dreamworks has given details on those being trusted with the film’s story, screenplay and direction.

Both George and John Gatins have come up with the story – a standalone journey that doesn’t follow the plot of any particular game – with George writing the actual screenplay. It marks the first writing credit for George Gatins, although John has penned such past successes as Real Steel, Coach Carter, and the Freddie Prinze, Jr.-led Summer Catch. How George – previously experienced in executive producing – does penning the screenplay remains to be seen, but John’s experience with coming-of-age stories and sports drama will be interesting to see translated into the world of competitive racing.

Adding to the intrigue is Scott Waugh being attached to direct. After his rise from stuntman to legitimate director with his work on Act of Valor, Waugh became the main talent courted by Dreamworks for the Need For Speed project. Gamers have reason to be excited, since Waugh recently spoke to Screen Rant about his excitement for directing a Need For Speed film under Spielberg’s studio, calling the opportunity “one of the coolest things that could ever happen in my career.”

It may be one of the best things for the film as well, since it’s hard to imagine a more suitable person to bring the intensity of racing to the big screen. With a career as a Hollywood stuntman, and Act of Valor‘s commitment to authenticity and realism, Need For Speed may be the movie that gear-heads and racing enthusiasts have always dreamed of.

Need For Speed Director Scott Waugh

For Act of Valor, Waugh and co-director Mike McCoy sought realism over Hollywood actors and pyrotechnics.

At the moment the only real film franchise based on racing is that spawned from The Fast & The Furious, having replaced an emphasis on horsepower, speed, and all around automotive excellence for actual star power some time ago. As far as Dreamworks’ official press release, it seems that’s the exact demographic they’re going after:

“The film adaptation will be a fast-paced, high-octane film rooted in the tradition of the great car culture films of the 70s while being extremely faithful to the spirit of the video game franchise. In Need for Speed, the cars are hot, the racing is intense and the story keeps players at the edge of their seat.”

With films like Vanishing Point, Bullitt, Gone on 60 Seconds, American Graffiti and others, the 1970’s are home to some of the most iconic films when it comes to cars on celluloid. This may only act as inspiration for the film (most likely set in present-day) but hearing that the studio is looking to the genre’s best examples, not the most recent, is a telling sign.

No word yet on potential casting or production details, but it will be interesting to see if Waugh once again seeks out actual drivers instead of recognizable faces and names. There is no shortage of professional drivers who have both experience and renown, so casting Tanner Foust (Top Gear U.S.) or others who have dabbled in racing games, like Ken Block or Travis Pastrana would be a smart move. Even in secondary roles, actual drivers or stuntmen would bring authenticity to a genre often overshadowed by celebrities and special effects.

More details can be expected from both EA and Dreamworks as production nears, but what do you think of the talent currently attached? Should Waugh and Dreamworks look to counter the mainstream method of making racing movies, or emulate it?

Need For Speed will move into production in 2013, with expected release in 2014.

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