And Now a Brief History of the Cleopatra Reboot

jolie_cleo225.jpgNews that Paul Greengrass might direct Cleopatra for producer Scott Rudin is the type that seems instinctively earmarked for Movieline's 2011 list of ridiculous casting/development rumors. (Hey, it's never too early to start planning those year-end lists!) Still, from the looks of things, this 3-D adaptation of Stacey Schiff's book -- with Angelina Jolie in the lead role no less -- is probably happening sooner rather than later. How did we get to this point? Ahead, Movieline tracks the development of the Greek queen's return to the big screen.

Nov. 2006: Scott Rudin and Columbia Pictures acquire the rights to Schiff's upcoming autobiography, Cleopatra, after reading a 10-page proposal. Schiff's book will focus on the political power of Cleopatra, and not her sexual prowess.

Oct. 2008: Not to be outdone, Steven Soderbergh announces that he's planning a musical version of Cleopatra. Titled Cleo, the film would star Catherine Zeta-Jones and Hugh Jackman as Cleopatra and Mark Antony (!), feature music from Guided By Voices (!!) and be shot in 3-D (!!!). All of this would be done for $30 million.

Jan. 2009: Citing "scheduling conflicts," Jackman drops out of Cleo. Soderbergh is still hopeful that his "Elvis-style" musical can happen.

Feb. 2009: Soderbergh signs on to direct Brad Pitt in Moneyball for Columbia, and, despite acquiring financing, pushes Cleo to "next year."

June 2009: Sony/Columbia cancel Soderbergh's version of Moneyball. The fate of Cleo remains up in the air.

June 2010: Schiff says Angelina Jolie has "the perfect look" to play the titular queen. She also envisions Pitt as Mark Antony. Rudin's office confirms that conversations with Jolie are progressing; no mention of Pitt is made.

Oct. 14, 2010: James Cameron "flirts" with the idea of directing Jolie in Cleopatra, which is now set to be shot in 3-D, too.

Oct. 27, 2010: Cameron announces that he will make two Avatar sequels instead of Cleopatra. Alas, maybe next time.

Jan. 2011: The filmmakers behind Cleopatra "like the idea" of hiring Paul Greengrass. Says Rudin: "It is a completely revisionist Cleopatra, a much more grown-up sophisticated version. She's not a sex kitten, she's a politician, strategist, warrior. In the Joseph Mankiewicz movie, Elizabeth Taylor is a seductress, but the histories of Cleopatra have been written by men. This is the first to be written by a woman." That Cleopatra's script was written by Brian Helgeland is apparently neither here nor there.



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