It’s been a couple of years since “Bruno” and if you’ve been feeling an absence of Sacha Baron Cohen on the big screen, that’s all about to change. Of course, he has a role in Martin Scorsese‘s 3D family film “Hugo Cabret” set to hit at the end of the year, and now, his high concept comedy “The Dictator” has landed a release date of May 11, 2012 and will undoubtedly become his next starring vehicle.
That film, which caused a bidding frenzy between studios last spring and earned Cohen a massive payday of $20 million against 20% first-dollar gross from Paramount who brought the project under their roof. Plot details previously described the film as a cross between “Coming to America” and “Trading Places” and would find Cohen playing both a goat herder and a deposed foreign dictator who gets lost in the United States, but some fresh details are certainly (and hilariously) eyebrow raising. The new logline reads: “The film tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed. It is inspired by the best selling novel, ‘Zabibah and The King,’ by Saddam Hussein.” Amazing.
Yes, “Zabibah and The King” is a real book, and tells the story of the passionate love affair between a common woman — who is married to a cruel husband who rapes her — and a medieval ruler in 8th century Tikrit. It also serves as an allegory, and since it’s “written” by Hussein, the United States are the evil husband, the Iraqi people the woman and Hussein himself the benevolent leader. The book was a hit in Iraq and even spawned a 20 part mini-series and musical. We’re sure Cohen is having a bit of a laugh here, but the core idea of a film centered around a deluded dictator is hilarious and we think the premise is a perfect fit for Cohen’s sensibilities.
“Borat” and “Bruno” director Larry Charles will be back in the director’s chair and the film is budgeted at $58 million. No word yet on when lensing is set to begin but we suppose that the Freddie Mercury biopic will have to wait. [Deadline]