David Fincher To Begin Talks To Direct Angelina Jolie in CLEOPATRA?

Curious Case of Benjamin Button writer Eric Roth to re-draft screenplay as Sony continue to court the A-list helmer for their mammoth sized biopic of the tragic Egyptian queen.

After a flurry of news things have been quiet of late on Sony's attempts to remake Cleopatra with a 21st century sized sprawling biopic but in a nice write up Variety have detailed exactly why. Angelina Jolie, who is long attached to play the tragic Egyptian Queen (they wouldn't have a movie without her) has settled on David Fincher directing and after brief talks in March, she's been waiting all year for him to finish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo so they can sit down and hammer out a deal. Fincher has now finished his remake of the Swedish best-seller that opens next month and is starting to look at his options for next year. Wisely, Sony are locking down Eric Roth, writer of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to re-draft the script, which I imagine is a move that will please Fincher greatly. His Social Network & Dragon Tattoo producer Scott Rudin's involvement, plus the wife of his frequent collaborator Brad Pitt (plus surely the idea that Pitt would co-star?) is a cocktail that Fincher is wisely not quick to dismiss and there's a big chance that he will be seduced by this package. Sony are certainly banking on it. Based on Stacy Schiff€™s 2010 released autobiography Cleopatra: A Life €“ the PG-13 film was originally adapted for the screen by Brian Helgeland (Robin Hood) and will be told exclusively as a Cleopatra character piece, focusing on the politician as much as the seducer. It's a high priority movie at Sony, perhaps the highest, with Sony head Amy Pascal calling it her 'Gone With The Wind' and it will carry a huge budget befitting of the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie. Rudin put it best;
"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."
But whether they are able to secure Fincher to direct the project at all will largely be down to whether he directs any sequels to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (though from what we've heard he will do a project in between first) and two others he has yet to make concrete plans for: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Disney and Rendezvous with Rama (from the novel by Arthur C Clarke) which, although forever attached to Morgan Freeman, does not yet have a completed script. He's also attached himself to other projects this year but those appear to be the key ones taking his interest. He is the third director Sony have gone after for Cleopatra after James Cameron decided to make Avatar 2 and Paul Greengrass decided it wasn't really for him. But it does feel like Jolie has her heart set on Fincher and Sony are going to pull out all the stops for him. Variety say Roth will begin re-writing in the coming weeks/months and I imagine filming next summer is planned if all the pieces come together. This would be a huge departure from Fincher, one of the very best film-makers on the planet right who is at the top of his game. But an intriguing prospect for sure.
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.