Baz Luhrmann to Direct Steven Spielberg Produced, Stanley Kubrick Scripted Napoleon Bonaparte Miniseries

By November 26, 2013
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Baz Luhrmann - Napoleon Bonaparte

In case you didn’t know, when Steven Spielberg was the head of the Cannes Film Festival jury back in May, he revealed development of a miniseries about French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte with an unproduced script from the late Stanley Kubrick serving as the source material. Now a director is being lined up, and it’s a big deal.

Deadline has word that Spielberg is currently courting Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann to direct the miniseries for HBO. However, negotiations are still very early, and a deal isn’t anywhere near being finalized.

The script was written over 40 years ago, and no Hollywood studio would agree to fund it. At the time, Kubrick was trying to turn his script into a movie, saying that it would be the best movie ever made in a letter he wrote to executives in 1971. Because of that promise, it has since been called the greatest movie never made, because Hollywood is super clever like that. (Jodorowsky’s version of Dune may have a claim for that title as well.)

Stanley Kubrick

This would mark the second time Spielberg has brought a piece of Kubrick’s past to the big screen since A.I. Artificial Intelligence was an incomplete screenplay that Spielberg saw through to the end and turned into a major sci-fi event starring Haley Joel Osment. That film wasn’t regarded as a masterpiece, but in recent years, supporters have crawled out of the woodwork and called it underrated.

Luhrmann is quite the spectacular director in every sense of the word, so we’d be interested to see how his style translates to a miniseries that would likely need to be grounded in history as opposed to his usual glittery, shiny affairs with fantastical elements. Romeo + Juliet ended up being pretty down to Earth and The Great Gatsby has spectacle, but isn’t necessarily unrealistic, so he can clearly contain himself when necessary.

HBO is the place for a miniseries like this to happen, but we’ll see if the project can come to fruition with Luhrmann attached or if someone else will end up in the director’s chair. Stay tuned.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.