I wouldn’t peg McG or Paul Greengrass as guys who would have trouble finding a project to work on, but in these hard times a blockbuster director is probably happiest when they’ve got their schedule planned out three movies deep. These two directors specifically have had news emerge about projects with which they have different levels of confirmed involvement. Naturally, Deadline is 2-0 for these director gig scoops.
• First is McG signing on to the Ouija movie, a film he was apparently competing with Breck Eisner to land after Universal and Platinum Dunes had already dismissed a long list of potential helmers. The film is shooting for a November 12th release date next year, and will follow Battleship in the line of films resulting from Hasbro’s Hollywood partnership.
• Next comes the extremely vague word that Paul Greengrass is apparently large in the sights of the producers behind the mega reimagining of Cleopatra at Sony. Cleopatra obviously has quite a storied history in Hollywood, and nearly bled Fox dry in the early 60s, but Sony Co-Chair Amy Pascal apparently see this as “her Gone With the Wind” epic- which doesn’t sound at all like the kind of self-indulgent legacy building instinct that has brought down studio heads in the past. At all. That said, the 3D project has attracted big names since it was fast-tracked, with James Cameron once circling it before stiff-arming the deal in favor of the Avatar sequels. Producer Scott Rudin granted Deadline an extensive interview about his work on True Grit and Social Network, and has this to say-
“It is a completely revisionist Cleopatra, a much more grown-up sophisticated version. 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. A lot of directors want to do it, but there is only a handful we’ll make it with.“
Greengrass is likely on a list of potential directors half-a-dozen deep (few or none of which are women I wager, despite being touted as a more female-centric approach), but if his name is being tossed around there is obvious enthusiasm for him. The director’s last film Green Zone was not his most staggeringly successful, so to have one of the biggest productions in the business tossed his way is nothing to sneeze at. It also shows the producers might genuinely be interested in backing their spectacle with depth and storytelling chops.
Again, these aren’t directors that I would ever expect to remain idle for long (McG is a consummate workman, and Greengrass a seemingly tireless auteur), but neither of them are at highlight points in their career. A ringing phone and an accepted pitch must always come as happy news, even for the A-listers.