Even though he put “Robopocalypse” on hold to figure out the script, 2013 is still shaping up to be a very busy and exciting year for Steven Spielberg. He was recently named as the jury president for the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, he’s producing “Jurassic Park IV,“ which stomps back into theaters next year, he’s working with Tom Hanks on another “Band Of Brothers“-esque series for HBO, and now he’s making an unrealized dream project from one of the greatest filmmakers of all time come back to life.
“I’ve been developing Stanley Kubrick‘s screenplay — for a miniseries not for a motion picture — about the life of Napoleon. Kubrick wrote the script in 1961, a long time ago,” Spielberg told French network Canal+. That’s really about it. There are no details on if he’ll direct or how far along into development it is, but Spielberg is working with Kubrick’s estate on the project.
As devotees of Kubrick know, this is probably the grandaddy of all of the helmer’s unrealized projects. “Napoleon” was massively researched, with literally tens of thousands of location photos, slides of imagery and endless notes and details about the historic leader that filled up boxes upon boxes upon boxes in Kubrick’s archives (so much in fact, that it formed the foundation of a rather amazing book on the subject). But the movie was never to be. MGM and United Artists both balked at producing the movie, which would have required thousands of extras and more, saying it was too risky in the wake of expensive endeavors like 1968’s “War And Peace” and 1970’s “Waterloo” that struggled to make their money back. Kubrick would eventually tackle “Barry Lyndon,” which takes place 15 years before the Napoleonic wars, but he still longed to make the movie. He even drafted screenplays, with the 1969 version available right here.
And of course, this isn’t the first time Spielberg has taken a Kubrick project across the finish line. 2001’s “A.I.” first started as a Kubrick project as far back as the 1970s, and he developed it slowly right up to the early ’90s, when he then presented it to Spielberg, thinking his sensibilities would be better suited for it. Spielberg declined, but decided to tackle it after the filmmaker’s passing.
But back to “Napoleon,” this is pretty massive and exciting news, and while we can forever wonder what Kubrick might have done, there is no doubt that given piles upon piles of research material, Spielberg and his team will have a pretty good idea of what he was aiming for. Hopefully, there will be more news to come soon. Watch below — Spielberg talks about “Napoleon” at the 9:14 mark. [Cinema Teaser]