Oscar-winning Skyfall and American Beauty filmmaker Sam Mendes has settled on his next feature film project. Deadline reports that Mendes will direct and co-write the World War I film 1917 for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, with Universal Pictures distributing. It’s a bit of a reunion as Mendes made his feature debut, American Beauty, for Spielberg’s DreamWorks Pictures, where Spielberg vouched for and protected the young filmmaker throughout the ambitious drama’s production. It went on to win the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor.
The logline for 1917 is being kept under wraps, but Spielberg describes the project as “hugely daring” and “ambitious,” and it’s hard not to think the success of Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk had something to do with the film getting off the ground. The package apparently sparked a bit of a bidding war, with Paramount, Sony, and New Regency chasing it before Amblin scooped it up.
Mendes makes his official screenwriting debut on the project, co-writing the script with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, a scribe best known for working on the TV series Penny Dreadful. Production on 1917 will begin in April 2019 for a planned December 2019 release date, which is a tight window from production to release and could signal this is a contained story. Mendes is no stranger to character-centric pieces, having directed a number of stage plays including the Broadway-bound The Ferryman and the recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on London’s West End.
On the big screen, Mendes most recently helmed the James Bond film Spectre after the smashing success of Skyfall. He subsequently signed on to direct Disney’s live-action Pinocchio movie, but dropped out of that project last November—perhaps because 1917 was heating up.
While details for 1917 are under wraps, that was a pretty integral year for World War I. The United States declared war on Germany in April, and London suffered the first major German bombing raid in June. It’ll be interesting to see what Mendes’ take on this story is.