EXCLUSIVE: The first social media reviews around the world on Blade Runner 2049 are calling the film a sci-fi masterpiece. Now, its director Denis Villeneuve is in discussions for one of Sony Pictures’ highest profile pictures. Deadline hears that Villeneuve will re-develop to direct Cleopatra, the epic female empowerment story of one of history’s most complex heroines. Based on the bestselling Stacy Schiff biography that is being produced by Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal, Cleopatra has seen the biggest filmmaker names circle this one including James Cameron, Paul Greengrass and David Fincher. Now, it’s Villeneuve who has sparked to the challenge and in a week he might be the hottest guy out there.
That filmmaker has quickly catapulted to the top of the A-list after directing Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival and then taking the Blade Runner baton from Ridley Scott. He has also been one of the three director names on the short list to direct the next James Bond film, along with ’71 and White Boy Rick director Yann Demange and David Mackenzie, the Hell or High Water director now filming Outlaw King, the story of rebellious Scottish king Robert the Bruce, for Netflix. Villenueve is also developing a new version of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune for Legendary Entertainment. The expectation is 007 isn’t in the cards, and that he can work on Cleopatra while directing Dune.
Sony has a script that David Scarpa, Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland have all worked on. Angelina Jolie has long been eyed to play the Egyptian queen, but it is unclear whether that still will happen. Sony’s David Beaubaire is overseeing for the studio.
This is a win for Sony and its motion picture chief Tom Rothman. He acquired international rights to the Best Picture-nominated and Villeneuve-directed Arrival, and then partnered with Alcon to finance Blade Runner 2049, with Sony releasing the film overseas while Warner Bros opens it Friday, October 6.
Now he’ll have another giant project with the CAA-repped filmmaker.
Pascal has the Aaron Sorkin-directed Molly’s Game and the Steven Spielberg-directed The Post with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep coming, and Rudin has the Noah Baumbach-directed The Meyerowitz Stories, the Greta Gerwig-directed Lady Bird and the Alex Garland-directed Annihilation coming.