Mountains: the new volcanoes. Fifteen years ago, erupting hills of lava formed the basis of dueling studio tentpoles, in the form of “Volcano” and “Dante’s Peak,” and now a similar showdown is brewing over their more dormant, solid cousins, with the announcement of a second film focusing on the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest. A little while back it was announced that Sony were planning “Everest,” with Doug Liman directing and Tom Hardy starring, about George Mallory, the first man to attempt the peak, only to die on the third attempt (spoiler!).
But now, according to Deadline, Christian Bale, presumably used to trying to disrupt Hardy’s plans after “The Dark Knight Rises,” is planning a rival film also called “Everest,” set up at Working Title Films (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Anna Karenina“), to be directed by busy Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur, whose survival tale “The Deep” was shortlisted for the Foreign Language Oscar, and who’s following up his successful Hollywood debut “Contraband” (another Working Title production) with this summer’s Mark Wahlberg/Denzel Washington vehicle “2 Guns.”
The pair won’t be telling the exact same story, however; the script for Bale’s project, from newcomer Justin Isbell, actually tells the story of the 1996 expedition up the mountain (famously documented in Jon Krakauer‘s book “Into Thin Air“), when a storm hit mid-climb and eight explorers lost their lives. The film won’t be based specifically on Krakauer’s book, but on multiple sources, and it’s unclear what role Bale would be playing as of right now.
It’s also not quite clear when the film (which Working Title will back with Universal and Emmett/Furla) will shoot; Bale’s about to shoot a new film with David O. Russell, and could have Wally Pfister‘s “Transcendence“ and Todd Field‘s “Creed Of Violence“ on his slate after that. With Kormakur working on “2 Guns” ’til August, there’s little possibility of it rolling before the fall, but maybe we could see this hitting as soon as awards season 2014? It’ll be interesting to see what effect it has on the Hardy/Liman project; the star’s dance card is, if anything, even busier than Bale’s, and Liman won’t be free until early 2014, but the difference in stories and periods should, in theory, mean that the two projects won’t be too similar. Which would you rather see? Let us know in the comments below.