Serbian producer Milos Antic said he has acquired the film rights to legendary director Sam Peckinpah’s unproduced screenplay Castaway (which is a working title), which is based on James Gould Cozzen’s 1934 novella of the same name. The deal was done with the Peckinpah Estate; Antic will be producing alongside Los Angeles-based producers Katy Haber and Benni Korzen.
Antic and Haber both worked with Peckinpah on his only war film Cross of Iron in 1976 in Portoroz, Slovenia (the former-Yugoslavia). On that shoot, Antic said that Peckinpah wanted to direct Castaway, and Antic told him if the film could be shot in Yugoslavia, he would want to help finance the film based on the novella that Peckinpah had acquired rights to in 1960.
Castaway is the story of Mr Lecky, “an every-man who survives an unnamed catastrophe by hiding in a department store that has escaped destruction. While he is surrounded by everything that he might seem to need, he is haunted by his own paranoia and demons.” The story is written “as a modern parable of Robinson Crusoe with philosophical, psychological and mystical implications.”
Peckinpah had written the first of many drafts of the screenplayith longtime collaborator and writing partner James R. Silke and the director almost got the film off the ground when L.Q. Jones, a director/writer and one of his stable of actors, agreed to produce the film, however the project collapsed due to financing problems.
In 1981, Antic finally closed a deal for Macedonia-based Vardar Film to executive produce the film for $3M and Peckinpah was to direct with a start date of 1985 in Macedonia. Such names as Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, Marcello Mastroianni and Dustin Hoffman were under consideration for the lead role of Mr. Lecky. However due to Peckinpah’s untimely death at the age of 59 in 1984, the film was sidelined.
In 2013, Antic and U.S.-based producer Benni Korzen worked to determine chain of title and they were able to find and get the rights in 2018. The two producers had previously worked together in the former-Yugoslavia in 1985 on The Misfit Brigade.
Haber, who had worked with Peckinpah for seven years on eight of his films and with whom Antic had not been in contact since Cross of Iron, then agreed to join as a producer.
“Although Sam did not live to direct Castaway, we are looking forward to assembling the greatest creative team and talent possible to translate his unique energy and vision,” said Antic in a statement. “Along with my producing partners, Benni Korzen and Katy Haber, we are especially pleased to be able to produce Sam’s next great film, not only to keep his legacy alive and introduce him to a new generation, but to finally deliver the gift he promised his family.”