Cleopatra VII Philopator, or just Cleopatra to her friends, might be heading to the big screen in the modern era after a long, long time searching for a director. Sony’s project centering on the Ancient Egyptian Queen has a script that has been put together in part by David Scarpa, Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland, though we’re hearing that the picture may go through re-development with Denis Villeneuve coming on board to direct.
As Deadline reports, the Blade Runner 2049 director is in discussions with Sony Pictures to bring the bestselling Stacy Schiff biography “Cleopatra: A Life” into production as a feature film. The project is being produced by Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal. If a deal makes, this would also be a feather in the cap of Sony’s Tom Rothman who wants to stay in the Villeneuve business, having acquired international rights for Arrival and recently partnered with Alcon Entertainment to finance Blade Runner 2049. The studio will also open the sci-fi sequel in international markets.
Cleopatra has been in the works for some time. Back in 2010, Angelina Jolie was attached to the title role (when we naively asked if Brad Pitt would be playing Marc Antony, of course). Later that year, James Cameron was in talks to direct, but his Avatar sequels took precedent for a 2014/15 release (HA!). Paul Greengrass emerged as a contender for director in early 2011. David Fincher followed that rumor a few months later and was considered to be circling until 2012 rolled around. Ang Lee showed interest in 2013, but that’s the last we’d heard about the project until today.
While Jolie’s part to play is still in question, if Villeneuve opts to take on Cleopatra, it’s probably the nail in the sarcophagus for his chance to direct the next James Bond film. He could, however, work on re-developing Cleopatra while directing his next picture, which is expected to be a reboot of Frank Herbert‘s Dune mythology for Legendary Entertainment.