Steven Spielberg Reteaming with Tony Kushner for THE KIDNAPPING OF EDGARDO MORTARA; May Return to ROBOPOCALYPSE for Next Project

     April 17, 2014

steven-spielberg-kidnapping-of-edgardo-mortara

Though we still have no definitive word on what Steven Spielberg’s next project will be, the filmmaker is adding another incredibly promising project to his potential slate.  Variety reports that Spielberg plans to direct and produce the religious drama The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara for The Weinstein Company and DreamWorks, and he has enlisted his Lincoln and Munich scribe—not to mention Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright—Tony Kushner to pen the script.  Based on the non-fiction book by David Kertzer, the story concerns an Italian Jew who, in 1858, was forcibly removed from his parents at the age of six by authorities of the Papal States and raised as a Catholic.  He later became a priest in the Augustinian order, but the ordeal set off an international controversy.

Though the religious pic certainly sounds like fascinating material for Spielberg and Kushner, Edgardo Mortara will not be Spielberg’s next project.  He has now narrowed his Lincoln follow-up down to two choices, one of which is a sci-fi epic and the other a battle of leaders set against the backdrop of the Spanish conquistadors’ interaction with the Aztec peoples.  Hit the jump for much more on where we stand with regards to Spielberg’s next film.

the-kidnapping-of-edgardo-mortara-steven-spielbergWhile Spielberg has committed to directing and producing The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, Kushner is still in the early stages on the script, so it is not expected to be his next project.  Per Variety, that honor will go to either Robopocalypse or Montezuma.  Spielberg was gearing up to make the large-scale sci-fi actioner Robopocalypse as his post-Lincoln project before halting work just before things were heating up.  Though he had a cast that included Chris Hemsworth, Anne Hathaway, and Ben Whishaw, Spielberg stumbled upon a different way to tell the story and decided to postpone the pic until the screenplay was reworked.

Montezuma, meanwhile, is a relatively new project for Spielberg.  The script was written in 1965 by Dalton Trumbo and concerns the dark and twisted history between Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez and Aztec leader Montezuma.  Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) is writing the screenplay at the moment, and Javier Bardem is said to be circling a lead role.

Per this report, Robopocalypse is the furthest along between the two projects, and some sources are telling Variety that it’s the frontrunner to be Spielberg’s next film at the moment.  While Zaillian is currently working on Montezuma, the Robopocalypse rewrite is complete.  It’s unclear who performed the work on the latter script, but the adaptation of the Daniel H. Wilson novel was initially penned by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods).  The story concerns, well, a robot apocalypse in which an artificial intelligence network becomes sentient and assumes control over the world’s network of machines.

Though Spielberg’s castmembers for Robopocalypse were released from their contracts when the movie was postponed, Variety notes that Hemsworth would still very much like to fit the film into his schedule.  It’s unclear how soon Spielberg would start production once he makes his decision, but it’s not out of the question to expect him behind the camera before 2014 is over with.

Both of these projects sound incredibly fascinating, so personally I see this as a win-win.  Though Lincoln was a stellar entry to Spielberg’s filmography, we haven’t seen a great “popcorn movie” from the filmmaker in a while.  Both Robopocalypse and Montezuma provide opportunities to tell big stories against big canvases.

What say you, readers?  Which film would you like to see Spielberg make next?

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