The last thing we heard from the developing, big budget redo of “Cleopatra” (can it really be done any other way?) was that Angelina Jolie, long attached to star, wanted David Fincher to take the helm. Loose conversations seemed to get underway this spring, but understandly, Fincher was neck deep in “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and word died off as fast as it had arisen. But with ‘Dragon Tattoo’ locked, Fincher is now looking ahead at 2012 and perhaps eager to start scheduling some things in as it looks he’s taking a more serious look at the sprawling biopic.
Variety reports that Fincher is once again circling the picture with a very interesting piece of bait on the lure. Eric Roth, the pen behind Fincher’s first real big Oscar horse “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button,” is in talks to come aboard and (re)write the script for the movie. Based on Stacy Schiff‘s celebrated book “Cleopatra: A Life,” the movie had an inital script by Brian Helgeland, for an epic movie that was orginally being planned as a PG-13 3D film. Whether or not that three dimensional format will stay in place remains to be seen, but Sony studio head Amy Pascal is calling this her “Gone with the Wind,” and the film is fully expected to be carrying a budget to match.
“It is a completely revisionist Cleopatra, a much more grown-up sophisticated version,” producer Scott Rudin previously said. “She’s not a sex kitten, she’s a politician, strategist, warrior. In the Joseph Mankiewicz movie, Elizabeth Taylor is a seductress, but the histories of Cleopatra have been written by men. This is the first to be written by a woman. It felt like such a blow-the-doors-off-the-hinges idea of how to tell it, impossible to resist. We’re pretty close. A lot of directors want to do it, but there is only a handful we’ll make it with.”
Though we heard the relationship between Fincher and studio has not been quite as smooth on ‘Dragon Tattoo’ as it was during “The Social Network,” the bottom line is Rudin and especially Jolie, get who they want. And any way you slice it, the potential pairing of Fincher/Jolie is certainly very, very enticing.
The project has been knocking around for a while, passing across James Cameron and Paul Greengrass‘ desks thus far without taking off. Roth seems to be a move not only to get a writer with some pedigree (he’s got one Oscar out of four nominations) but also one who has worked with Fincher before and knows his tastes, aesthetic and approach. As far as courting moves go, it’s a pretty smart one.
Certainly, the prospect of Fincher taking on a huge period movie is exciting, and we’d imagine he’d be eager to go down a path of material and subject he’s never done before. But for now we’ll see, but either way, it looks like Jolie really wants Fincher for this gig. Though we’ll wonder how she’ll feel after take 65.