A battle is brewing between Steven Spielberg and Harvey Weinstein as both Hollywood heavyweights set in motion films based on the 1858 kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. As previously announced, Spielberg is set to direct Tony Kushner’s adaptation of David Kertzer‘s book “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara,” with cast members Mark Rylance and Oscar Isaac already confirmed to star. Weinstein, meanwhile, is moving forward with his own version of the story, with Robert De Niro reportedly circling a role.
The true story, set in 1858, centers around a six-year-old Jewish boy in Bologna, Italy who is taken from his family and raised Catholic. His family takes it upon themselves to bring their son back, though the matter is complicated by a growing conflict with the Papacy. Rylance is playing Pope Pius IX in Spielberg’s drama, which is the same role Robert De Niro is eyeing for Weinstein.
Ironically, Weinstein was the first of the two to begin developing Kertzer’s book into a film adaptation. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the producer had been eyeing the story for nearly eight years, and he even caught the eye of Spielberg, though a collaboration between the two never came to be. Spielberg confirmed his solo version in April, and now Weinstein is fast-tracking his own version.
Spielberg’s “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara” is set to begin production in spring 2017 and has plans to be turned around quickly for next awards season. Weinstein is looking to beat him by kicking off production in January.