EXCLUSIVE: Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó has been tapped by Straight Up Films and Phoenix Pictures to direct a film about the life of Joseph Merrick, best known as The Elephant Man. The story will follow an unlikely love story between Joseph and the young woman assigned to his care at the Fawsley Hall Estate, where he’s been invited to experience nature and leisure in the final weeks of his life.
The Elephant Man was a popular stage play originated in 1970s London by Bernard Pomerance. Bradley Cooper starred as Merrick in the most recent 12-week theater revival, a performance that earned him a Tony nomination. David Lynch also adapted a 1980 film version starring John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins that picked up multiple Oscar noms.
Co-CEOs and founders of Straight Up Films Kate Cohen and Marisa Polvino will produce the latest feature adaptation with Shutter Island and Black Swan producer Mike Medavoy for Phoenix Pictures and David Dobkin (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). Straight Up has produced films like Transcendence, The Education of Charlie Banks, and Jane Got A Gun.
“We feel that Kornel is the perfect voice for this extraordinary project,” Cohen and Polvino said, “The passion, humanity and poetry he infuses into his filmmaking is exactly what this love story deserves.”
“The story of Joseph Merrick is one of enduring inspiration. Kornel has a very fresh take that we all feel will bring compassion, dignity, and a new cinematic life to one of history’s most fascinating figures” said Medavoy.
Mundruczó, the director behind the 2014 Cannes award-winning film White God as well as Jupiter’s Moon, was recently announced as the director of Pieces Of A Woman, an indie drama starring Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf.
“I’ve been attracted to the character of Joseph Merrick’s for a long time,” Mundruczo said, “Our film will pay tribute to this astonishing man whose short life was filled with extraordinary experiences and challenges, that audiences all over the world will relate to deeply. In nature, all creatures thrive and in this environment, the Elephant Man can finally become Joseph Merrick, his true self.”
Production is slated to commence June 2020.