Word out of Toronto International Film Festival is that The Weinstein Company may have an Oscar contender in Lion, which stars Dev Patel and Rooney Mara in the story of a young Indian man who goes searching for his original family after being adopted by an Australian family as a boy. The story itself sound like pretty obvious, period-design-heavy Oscar bait, which has been part of the Weinstein brand for quite some time now. One could even see Inglorious Bastards as first and foremost a period piece, one that also happens to play a 1980s David Bowie track in the days of Adolf Hitler’s reign.
There’s a similar timbre to what looks to be The Weinstein Company’s next major project, and the subject matter might sound a bit familiar to you. After developing a project for some eight years or so, Harvey Weinstein looks to be finally moving ahead with his adaptation of The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortaro, the tale of a young Jewish boy who was taken away from his family and raised as a Christian. The Italian-born boy eventually becomes a priest in the Augustinian order, following the 1858 kidnapping. As THR reports, Weinstein has apparently tapped director Baltasar Kormakur to helm the project, with Robert De Niro in talks to play Pope Pius IX. Neither the filmmaker nor the actor have signed on as of yet.
Those who have been paying attention to the recent doings of one Steven Spielberg will not that he’s currently in pre-production for a film based on the very same story. Right now, he’s working on Ready Player One but the Mortara film has been set as his next project for some time now. At one point, apparently, Spielberg was looking to partner with Weinstein on the project but that has seemingly fallen through at this point. Spielberg’s film will star Mark Rylance as Pope Pius IX and Oscar Isaac has been tapped to lead the film in an unspecified role, working from a script by Lincoln and Angels in America scribe Tony Kushner. Weinstein’s script will be penned by Jeremy Brock of The Last King of Scotland, and on the merits of screenwriting alone, Spielberg’s production currently has the upper hand. With some clever casting and filmmaking choices, however, that could change.