One of the great “what ifs” in cinema history is Stanley Kubrick’s long-developed biopic Napoleon. The filmmaker planned a historical epic chronicling the life of the French Emperor, but the ambitious project proved too difficult to get off the ground when studios refused to front the massive budget needed to tell the story; Kubrick would even tell the studios that Napoleon would be “the best film ever made.” The project remained uncompleted when Kubrick unexpectedly passed away, but Kubrick’s friend Steven Spielberg announced earlier this year that he would be turning the filmmaker’s Napoleon script into an HBO miniseries. Now it appears that Spielberg and HBO are courting a very interesting director to tackle the adaptation: Baz Luhrmann. Hit the jump for more.
Deadline reports that Spielberg and HBO are courting The Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann to direct what is being planned as the highest-profile miniseries in HBO’s history. A deal has yet to be made, but Lurhmann tackling a biopic of Napoleon Bonaparte scripted by Stanley Kubrick and produced by Steven Spielberg is a wholly fascinating prospect. The pay-cable network can afford to take some risks thanks to the massive success of Game of Thrones, and they will no doubt be putting a hefty amount of money into Napoleon should Luhrmann accept the gig. The filmmaker has yet to settle on a follow-up project to this year’s ambitious The Great Gatsby adaptation, so one assumes he’s able to fit Napoleon into his schedule.
The HBO miniseries isn’t the only Napoleon project in development at the moment, as Warner Bros. is also planning a feature film about the figure to be directed by Snow White and the Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders. Ironically, Lurhmann found himself in a similar horse race when he was mounting Alexander the Great with Leonardo DiCaprio, but Oliver Stone and Colin Farrell’s film beat them to the punch and Luhrmann’s project never moved forward following Alexander‘s dismal commercial and critical performance. However, Warner Bros.’ Napoleon feature and the Napoleon miniseries are extremely different projects, so there’s no reason both can’t exist at the same time. Moreover, HBO is used to working very quickly, so should Luhrmann sign on, production could feasibly get under way later next year.
What do you think, readers? Is Luhrmann the right choice to finally bring Kubrick’s project to fruition, or are his sensibilities an ill fit? Who would be the best director to tackle the material? Sound off in the comments below.