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Development Watch: Arterton for Gretel, Jolie’s Cleopatra Director, Clooney’s Monster of Florence

Development Watch: Arterton for Gretel, Jolie's Cleopatra Director, Clooney's Monster of Florence

– Jeremy Renner’s Hansel has found his Gretel. Gemma Arterton will star alongside the rising Hurt Locker and Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol star in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which sets the fairy tale duo fifteen years later, chasing witches. Despite having suffered three less-than-stellar films in 2010 (Tamara Drewe, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Clash of the Titans), Brit Gemma Arterton beat out Diane Kruger, Eva Green and Noomi Rapace to fill these fairy tale shoes. Director Tommy Wirkola wants to shoot in Berlin starting March 7. Let’s hope this fairy tale update rises above the pack.

– Fox 2000 is bringing to life The Monster of Florence, based on the book by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, with George Clooney starring and Chris McQuarrie and Natahn Alexander writing the screenplay (the team wrote Valkyrie). The story tracks the unsolved series of Il Mostro murders between the 1960s and early 1980s. At one point during writers Preston and Spezi’s investigation into the case, the police considered them suspects. Tom Cruise first optioned rights to the book in fall 2008, but United Artist and MGM’s restructuring problems left the project hanging.

– Many fingers are crossed Sony and Scott Rudin’s adaptation of Stacy Schiff’s bestseller Cleopatra: A Life (with Angelina Jolie attached) falls into the right hands. James Cameron passed; folks are liking the idea of skilled Bourne franchise director Paul Greengrass taking over. “A lot of directors want to do it, but there is only a handful we’ll make it with,” Rudin told Mike Fleming.

“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.”

Ridley Scott won our who-should-direct Cleopatra poll, but Greengrass wasn’t on it; after Green Zone he could use a hit (results pictured). But given Rudin’s comments, what about a woman director? Kathryn Bigelow could handle this.

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