The epic story of the Egyptian Queen of the Nile is returning to screens once again. Deadline has reported that “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot will reunite for “Cleopatra” at Paramount Pictures, who reportedly closed the deal on the film over the weekend. The period biographical drama will be scripted by Laeta Kalogridis, the writer behind Oliver Stone’s swords-and-sandals epic “Alexander” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” and the creator and executive producer behind Netflix’s recently canceled science-fiction series “Altered Carbon.”
This new version of “Cleopatra,” the latest female-driven epic from dream team Gadot and Jenkins after Warner Bros.’ smash hit “Wonder Woman” and the upcoming “Wonder Woman 1984,” will be produced by Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven, Jenkins, Gadot, and her Pilot Wave Motion Pictures partner Jaron Varsano. Kalogridis will also serve as the executive producer. According to Deadline, Gadot recently took part in a series of Zoom pitches along with Jenkins and the producers to lay out the story beats based on Kalogridis’ research.
According to Deadline, there is an “accelerated timetable,” with Kalogridis beginning writing immediately on the big-budget Paramount epic. A “Cleopatra” revamp has been in the works for years, including from Sony Pictures with Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin based on Stacy Schiff’s biography, with Angelina Jolie once attached. Potential directors have included James Cameron, Denis Villeneuve, and David Fincher.
Enthusiasm for the project is in spite of the fact that Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s lavish 1963 version starring Elizabeth Taylor as the Queen of the Nile and Richard Burton as Mark Anthony nearly tanked 20th Century Fox at the time due to its bloated budget, production foibles, and disappointing box office returns. The movie won four out of its nine Academy Awards nominations, but quickly became a cautionary tale for big studio projects.
Meanwhile, still to come is “Wonder Woman 1984” from Jenkins and Gadot. The sequel has been shuffled four times on the release calendar by Warner Bros. due to the pandemic, but the movie is now expected to open as a Christmas Day release on December 25, 2020. It was originally set to open June 5, then August 14, then October 2.
IndieWire has reached out to Paramount Pictures for comment.