Rumours have been flying around about Sony’s planned 3D Cleopatra extravaganza for a while now. As we reported here, James Cameron was looking at it as a directing gig, with Angelina Jolie on board as the eponymous queen.
Although Jolie is still on board, Cameron seems to have moved on to Avatar sequels. Producer Scott Rudin says that they are “pretty close” to securing a director and one rumoured possibility is Paul Greengrass, who directed United 93, The Bourne Supremacy & Ultimatum and Green Zone. Although a big-budget 3D epic seems a little outside Greengrass’ norm, he had toyed with directing Fantastic Voyage in 3D (with James Cameron producing), so it is perhaps not quite as left field as at first appears.
The script by Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential, Man on Fire, Mystic River) is purported to be superb, portraying Cleopatra as a politician and a strategist rather than merely the seductress of the calamitous 1963 film, famously starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Interestingly, Helgeland also wrote the script for Green Zone, Paul Greengrass’ last outing as director.
Sony apparently acknowledge that this sort of grand-canvas, 3D, prestige picture won’t come cheap, though they are hoping to get filming underway in 2011. In today’s money, the 1963 version of Cleopatra cost some $300m, a figure Sony will surely try to stick well below. Even with inflated ticket prices for 3D films, the project would still be something of a gamble if the budget starts to spiral.
As and when more news comes through, we will be sure to let you know.