Gal Gadot is climbing the royal ranks from Princess Diana of Themyscira to Queen of the Nile.
The “Wonder Woman” star will reteam with director Patty Jenkins to bring Cleopatra back to the big screen in a woman-driven period biographical drama about the Egyptian ruler, according to Deadline.
The two have tapped “Alexander” and “Shutter Island” scribe Laeta Kalogridis to script the project, with Paramount beating out Universal, Warner Bros., Netflix and Apple for the rights to the film over the weekend.
The biopic is apparently the brainchild of the Israeli actor and her Pilot Wave production company. Gadot pitched various studios and streaming services via Zoom alongside Jenkins to nail down plot points informed by Kalogridis’ research.
The project is reportedly on an “accelerated timetable” as it could be a major earner for the studio after the recent devastating blows to the film industry and theater operators caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cleopatra was, of course, most famously played on screen by Elizabeth Taylor in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1963 film of the same name, whose $42 million budget made it the most expensive film at the time. The movie won a slew of Academy Awards for its lavish production design and cinematography but nearly bankrupted Twentieth Century Fox because of production delays, publicity scandals surrounding Taylor and co-star Richard Burton and multiple changes to the cast and crew.
In recent years, Hollywood has taken its fair share of stabs at developing a Cleopatra film, including a long-in-development biopic at Sony Pictures, with Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga rumored to star at various points. Directors James Cameron, Paul Greengrass and, most recently, Denis Villeneuve have circled that project, with a script from screenwriter David Scarpa.
“Instead of doing the movie as the prestige picture — the three-hour, lots of pageantry, people with fans and English accents and all that stuff — [we] really treat it as a political thriller,” Scarpa told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “Dirty, bloody, lots of people swearing and having sex and all of that other stuff and just treat it as a two-hour, lean, mean political thriller, full of assassinations, etc. Just going the opposite direction from the way we think that movie is going to go.”
Gadot and Jenkins will likely take their project in a different direction, but first they have to launch their much-delayed “Wonder Woman” sequel.
As it now stands, “Wonder Woman 1984” will hit theaters on Christmas after being pushed back numerous times because of the pandemic. The sequel was originally scheduled for June 5 before moving to Aug. 14 and then Oct. 2.
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