Sam Mendes Chooses CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, ON CHESIL BEACH, and Carey Mulligan Over THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ

     June 2, 2010

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It seems that the potentially fantastic teaming of director Sam Mendes and Robert Downey Jr. for The Great and Powerful Oz is not written in the stars.  Mendes has three likely projects on the horizon, but they all take place far away from the Emerald City.  They are:

  • a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stage musical
  • an adaptation of On Chesil Beach, with Carey Mulligan in talks to star
  • the next James Bond film

Hit the jump for more details on each project.

charlie_and_the_chocolate_factory_book_coverDeadline reports that a successful initial reading encouraged Mendes to sign on to direct a stagued musical version of the Roald Dahl childrens’ novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  With Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray) are writing the songs, the musical is set to premiere in London during the holiday season 2011, followed by a Broadway run.  A Chocolate Factory musical has been in the works for awhile at Warner Bros., and Mendes is a great get: the director got his start on the London stage before transitioning into film (and Oscar glory) with American Beauty in 1999.

Though the stage is calling, Mendes will likely return to features first with an adaptation of Ian McEwan novel On Chesil Beach for Focus Features.  Author McEwan will also assume scripting duties for the drama, which revolves around “two repressed virgins in their early twenties whose attempt to consummate ends badly.” In a pairing that’s approximately as exciting as Downey/Mendes, Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) is in talks to star as one of the aforementioned virgins.

These two projects spoke to Mendes deeply enough that he gave Disney the go ahead to look to other directors (such as Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov) to helm The Great and Powerful Oz.  Still, big-budget filmmaking remains in Mendes’ future, as the director is committed to directing the next Bond film once MGM is in the financial position to make it.   You can be sure that the Bond franchise will be on the top of the to-do list of whoever ends up running the show when the dust settles, so expect the Mendes take on Bond sooner rather than later.

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