EXCLUSIVE: The team behind the 2015 Sundance sensation The Witch is bewitched with the idea of telling the story of the Russian “mad monk” Rasputin in long form. Media Rights Capital, the company behind Ted and the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, has set The Witch writer-director Robert Eggers to write and direct six to eight episodes that will cover Rasputin’s origins in Siberia to his rise to power and bloody death in St. Petersburg. Jay Van Hoy & Lars Knudsen’s Parts and Labor will produce it.
Rasputin was the Russian mystic who became an advisor to the Russian Imperial family, the Romanovs. Embraced by Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra as a healer for their only son, Tsarevich Alexei (who secretly suffered from hemophilia), Rasputin’s influence with the family in all matters grew to the point that rivals tried several times to kill him, finally succeeding in 1916.
This becomes the second major Rasputin project to take shape. Warner Bros is separately developing a Rasputin movie that American Sniper scribe Jason Hall is writing for Leonardo DiCaprio to potentially play the one they called the mad monk. Rasputin’s enemies fumed as they watched as he ingratiated himself into the royal family’s inner circle. Detractors considered him a charlatan who prolifically bedded women, possibly including the Tsar’s wife. That might be in dispute, but what isn’t was how hard Rasputin was to kill. He survived being stabbed, was shot, strangled, shot again, all in one night, and finally drowned when thrown into the icy Neva River.
Eggers, Van Hoy and Knudsen take this on as they separately work on a remake of Nosferatu at Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8. That film is based on the Dracula mythology and this will be a visceral adaptation of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent film masterpiece that brings the horrific vampire of Eastern European folklore back to the screen. Eggers is separately in a deal with Studio 8 to write and direct the medieval film The Knight, which Van Hoy and Knudsen are also producing. They are repped by WME. Parts And Labor also produced Beginners and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
A24 released The Witch this past weekend, and the elevated horror film grossed $8.8 million in its bow.