Black Swan may have made Darren Aronofsky an Oscar nominated director and Phoenix Pictures/Fox Searchlight a ton of money (grossed over $300 million worldwide) but in the modern day film climate a ceiling-breaking arthouse hit doesn’t always mean you can walk straight up to a Hollywood major and ask for $130 million dollars to make a personal passion project. Indeed, there’s very few men in this industry who can do that.
Chris Nolan… but he had to make a smash-hit comic book movie to earn that right, a path that Aronofsky nearly took with The Wolverine this year (and previously with a reboot of Batman before Nolan got the gig)…. whilst powerful men like James Cameron had to break box office records to elevate himself to a place where he has an almost bottomless chequebook relationship with studios. Even then, there’s a chance you won’t ever get that privilege…. ask Gore Verbinski who made billions for Disney with the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy before then struggling to get $100 million off Universal to make the Ubisoft video game Bioshock into a large scale horror.
So if Aronofsky is really going to get his $130 million budgeted dark and complex take on the Noah’s Ark fable into production, he needs a box office name of some power on his side to ease the studio risk. The good news coming in from Vulture is that he may have found his man in Christian Bale, delightfully for Aronofsky a box office draw who is a method man, character actor by trade and someone who is really only happy if he is pushing his craft to the limit. He almost isn’t happy unless he is killing himself for his work.
Aronofsky has been trying to crack Noah for the best part of the last five years (at least anyway as that’s only since his desire became public) but it seems in the past few weeks he has really signaled his firm intent to make Noah next after he convinced New Regency to front half of the production costs, paving the way for a Hollywood major to jump into bed with them and reduce some of the major risks. Paramount, Fox (who are partners with Regency) and Summit Entertainment are circling.
Earlier this year Aronofsky set comic book artist Nico Henrichon with the task of creating a graphic novel that would work like a pitch to studios who are clearly confused why Joe Popcorn would be interested in an ancient biblical tale, hoping they could finally realise what a spectacular visual orgy he had in mind. Now that Aronofsky has those visuals (which clearly got New Regency interested) and now Bale’s interest (though it’s stressed that it’s on early talks at the moment)… things might really start moving for the director.
Aronofsky has had his eye on Bale for a while and at one point was looking at working with him on The Fighter before he left production and his replacement helmer David O. Russell would direct the Welsh born actor to his first Oscar statue. Aronofsky’s script has been re-written by Oscar nominated scribe John Logan whose success with Gladiator should go someway to convincing studios that there could be money to be had here.
Back in January, Aronofsky spoke of the film;
“It’s a great script and it’s huge. And we’re starting to feel out talent. And then we’ll probably try and set it up… It’s the end of the world and it’s the second most famous ship after the Titanic. So I’m not sure why any studio won’t want to make it…It’s a really cool project and I think it’s really timely because it’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist. He’s a really interesting character. Hopefully they’ll let me make it. Noah was the first person to plant vineyards and drink wine and get drunk. It’s there in the Bible – it was one of the first things he did when he reached land. There was some real survivor’s guilt going on there. He’s a dark, complicated character.”
None of my school teachers spoke about how ‘dark, complicated’ Noah really was but I’m sure a man like Christian Bale can weed it out!
Having taken dozens of meetings over varying film projects from all kinds of genres since The Wolverine died a couple of months ago and basically showing brief flirtations with a few, it now looks like Noah, financing permitting, is going to be his next feature film. Warner Bros. had a few weeks ago sent the director a script they like for a religious epic based on Moses as a cheaper alternative to the ambitious Noah’s Ark he was developing but Aronofsky has seemingly made up his mind and it’s this one all the way now.
Christian Bale is of course currently shooting his final stint as Batman for The Dark Knight Rises and will be unavailable until at least November, so don’t expect much movement on this one till 2012. But man, someone as dedicated to his craft as he playing a crazy character who at 600 years old (can Bale really stretch method to make himself live that long????) saved the animal kingdom from an impending apocalyptic flood and directed by Aronofsky? Yup, that’s gonna be something special right there.
Though maybe not as special than as if Ricky Gervais had made it;