EXCLUSIVE: It looks like David Heyman’s biblical epic Methuselah with Warner Bros and Tom Cruise is revving up with Joachim Rønning, who is fresh off directing what is touted to be Disney’s 2017 summer blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, attached to direct.
Warner Bros and Heyman have been dancing with this project for quite some time and Cruise has been attached for awhile but bringing Rønning aboard breathes new life into a project that has such high expectations. Black List writer Zach Dean, who wrote 2012 crime drama Deadfall with Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde and just wrapped Ethan Hawke starrer 24 Hours to Live, took a dormant project and brought it to life. His version of Methuselah is what attracted Warner Bros and indeed Rønning. Sources tell me that now, with Rønning attached, the project will go out to a number of writers for a rewrite and then circle back to Cruise. This will be an epic vehicle for Warner Bros that calls for someone of his stature to take on the heavy-hitting role of a man who lived for almost 1,000 years without ageing, all while developing a set of unparalleled survival skills.
Norwegian director Rønning, has become hot property amongst the studio community after proving his chops for Disney’s newest Pirates instalment, which is currently in post-production. The film, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is expected to be a return to form for the starry franchise and sees Depp back as Captain Jack Sparrow, starring alongside Javier Bardem, Kaya Scodelario, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush. Rønning is no stranger to the epic man-against-the-elements story either: His 2012 Oscar-nominated film Kon-Tiki, which he co-directed with Espen Sandberg, chronicled the story of the legendary Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsawood raft in 1947 to prove that South Americans could settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.
Heyman is currently one of the world’s most successful film producers. His relationship with Warner Bros is a close one as he’s the one who optioned the Harry Potter rights and delivered the studio eight blockbuster hits for a franchise worth $7.7B at the box office. He produced Oscar-winning Sandra Bullock-starrer Gravity with the studio and next month sees the release of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff tale Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which he produced and is tracking at least $75M U.S. debut for Warner Bros when it lands on November 18. Fantastic Beasts looks set to be five films. Heyman also recently produced Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander-starrer The Light Between Oceans for Dreamworks, which opened last month, and is currently shooting Paddington 2 for Studiocanal.
Cruise is coming off the back of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, a follow-up to 2012’s Jack Reacher, about a homicide investigator on the run as a fugitive from the law due to a major government conspiracy. He’s just wrapped Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy for Universal with Russell Crowe, a production that will expand and unify a network of classic monsters. Cruise also recently starred in Doug Liman’s American Made, the true story of pilot Barry Seal who transported contraband for the CIA and the Medellin cartel in the 1980s.
Cruise is repped by CAA.
Ronning is repped by UTA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Dean is repped by WME.