EXCLUSIVE: Millennium Films has set Transparent creator Jill Soloway to write and direct Red Sonja, a film that went back to the drawing board earlier this year after Bryan Singer was dropped as director. Soloway is coming in with a bold new take, and gives the film much better optics that already has studios approaching Millennium. Soloway’s Topple Productions partner Andrea Sperling is also coming aboard as a producer.
“I can’t wait to bring Red Sonja’s epic world to life,” Soloway told Deadline. “Exploring this powerful mythology and evolving what it means to be a heroine is an artistic dream come true.”
It is the first deal for Soloway since directing The Transparent Movie Musicale Finale that this fall will wrap Soloway’s groundbreaking Amazon series creation. Casting will start anew for an actress to play Red Sonja, who originated as a comic book heroine in the 1970s and has appeared in hundreds of comics over the decades, with Dynamite Entertainment still publishing them today. It will be the second film treatment for the character following the 1985 actioner that starred Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Millennium Media will finance, and Millennium Films will produce with Topple Campbell/Grobman Films and Cinelou Films, with rights holder Luke Lieberman exec producer.
Soloway might be new to event-sized action movies, but the writer-director has been a pioneer ushering in inclusion with the celebrated Amazon series Transparent, directing 17 episodes and the finale in the process. Soloway co-wrote with sister Faith Soloway (who wrote the music) The Transparent Movie Musicale Finale for Amazon Prime Video. It is described as a two-hour love letter to the Pfefferman family, framed around the death of Maura (played in the series by Jeffrey Tambor), with 10 original songs playing out in the buildup to Maura’s funeral.
Topple is ramping up its movie efforts and since Red Sonja has to be scripted, cast and prepped, it is likely Soloway will direct something before it.
Millennium has been trying to revive Red Sonja for at least a decade, coming closest with a version where Robert Rodriguez was going to direct Rose McGowan in the role. The project came back around after the success of Wonder Woman demonstrated the potential for female-driven superhero films. While Millennium’s action and genre slates have had mostly men at the helm, the company has made an emphasis on become more inclusive in hiring filmmakers. It recently set Tanya Wexler to direct Kate Beckinsale in the action thriller Jolt.
Singer was set as Red Sonja director last year, even after being fired from Bohemian Rhapsody two weeks before wrapping, for repeated absences. The movie was at the time asserting itself in the Oscar Best Picture race with a box office run that ended with an astounding $903 million worldwide, and Singer also had an enviable superhero track record with X-Men. But Singer was dropped after the publication of an article in The Atlantic that leveled tawdry allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the director. Despite Singer’s denials, distributors wanted no part of it, and it would have been a challenge to find an actress to play the character who, in the comic mythology, is out to avenge her family, with sexual assault a part of that tapestry.
Soloway is repped by UTA, Jackoway Austen Tyerman and ID.