EXCLUSIVE: MGM has landed another major project, acquiring North American rights to the George Miller-directed Three Thousand Years of Longing, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. Miller wrote the script and is producing with Doug Mitchell.
Said Miller: “This film has been simmering in the back of my mind for some time. If we can pull it off, I believe we have the makings of something unusually tasty.”
Said Michael De Luca, MGM Film Group Chairman and Pamela Abdy, MGM Film Group President: “We are thrilled to be working with George and Doug on their next film, and are especially excited to be a part of the sweeping and timeless world that George has created. This uniquely original film, by one of the world’s greatest storytellers, will be something truly special for moviegoing audiences.”
The movie is expected to shoot in Australia, London and Istanbul. The film will be released in the U.S. via MGM’s joint distribution/marketing entity United Artists Releasing.
For De Luca and Abdy, this becomes just the latest major project acquisition for MGM. Others include the Thai cave rescue drama Thirteen Lives with Ron Howard directing, the Gucci movie with director Ridley Scott and Lady Gaga, The Martian author Andy Weir’s new one Project Hail Mary, Dog with Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin, and Dark Harvest with David Slade. The turbocharged studio has been in on every major recent material auction.
Miller expected to start production in March on the movie, before the pandemic scrapped every Hollywood production. CAA Media Finance handled North American and Chinese distribution rights, this after FilmNation sold out to the walls on international territories back at 2018 AFM.
Miller has been circumspect on the plot of the film that will be his follow-up to the Best Picture Oscar nominee Mad Max: Fury Road.
Here is what he told Deadline in December:
“Look, I’m happy to talk about the new film very elliptically, but I’ve always felt that if you talk about these films before they’re actually completed, you jinx them,” he told Deadline. “And ultimately until it’s done you don’t know what it is. I see the title of this film as a riddle, and it’s more or less at heart a two-hander, even though it’s way more complex than that. Tilda and Idris are the two characters at the center of this thing. I can’t even decide what genre it is, to be honest. And that’s a good thing. I like to think in these days that to have a chance of people taking notice of what you’re doing, without being overly flamboyant, your film needs to be uniquely familiar. That’s the term I use. The audience is looking for that, something that seems fresh and atypical. In this case, every time I think, oh it’s this kind of film, I say yes but also it’s that kind of film. I would hope that translates into people feeling that what we’re trying to do is interesting.
“One thing I can tell you; it’s not [another Fury Road],” he said. “It’s a movie that is very strongly visual, but it’s almost the opposite of Fury Road. It’s almost all interior and there’s a lot of conversation in it. There are action scenes, but they are by the by and I guess you could say it’s the anti-Mad Max.”
How did Miller arrive on Elba and Swinton?
“It arose out of the characters as written,” he said. “I met both of them at some events at separate times and the moment I got to talk to them, they suddenly just slotted into the roles. I was really very happy they were available and interested and that they responded very well to the material. My hope is they will be doing something quite different than either of them has done before. I know I’m being a bit enigmatic but I don’t want to say more about the content of the film.”
If the title is a riddle, it is something that Miller has puzzled over for a long time.
“I guess I’m hardwired to story in some way, and for me what happens is, stories seed in your head and they rattle around,” Miller said. “It becomes rather Darwinian, survival of the fittest: the ones that have the most comprehensive promise are the ones that survive. This story I have been working on and thinking about for at least 15 years. There would always be several of these stories in my mind and it’s interesting, the ones that tend to fall away and why they fall away. The ones that are more insistent are usually so because they tick a lot of boxes and organically do a lot of things.”
“The best way I can say it is, I really like stories where there is a lot of iceberg under the tip,” Miller said. “Too often, a story can be quite dazzling but it’s amazing how quickly you can forget about it. I must say, going back to Mad Max: Fury Road, that was the thing that satisfied me the most. For a film like that, it could have been read just on the surface. It was very, very hard to get in a lot of subtext and exposition while you are on the run. That was the formal exercise of that film and I was really happy when people started to read a lot of stuff underneath that film. They saw the allegory. I think that’s why the film got traction to the extent it did. That’s my hope on this film even though you never know until it’s out there and people tell you what the film is.”
Miller is represented by CAA. Elba is represented by WME and UK-based The Artists Partnership. Swinton is represented by UTA and UK-based Hamilton Hodell.