Back in October it was reported that Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix were developing a Napoleon movie curiously titled Kitbag. Now the real work can get started, as Apple have come onboard to finance and produce the project.
The film was originally in development at 20th Century Studios where Scott has a first look deal. But the studio let go of the project before the end of 2020, which allowed Apple to swoop in and acquire the global rights. Scott and his company Scott Free already had a first-look deal in place at Apple for television, so there was already a working relationship there.
The film will examine Napoleon‘s origins and chronicle his ruthless rise to power, while also exploring his volatile relationship with his wife, Josephine. And if you’re curious about the title, it’s a reference to the saying “there is a general’s staff hidden in every soldier’s kitbag”. Phoenix, who’s around 5’8″, will play the French military leader, who is thought to have been about 5’6″.
David Scarpa (All The Money In The World) is writing the script, and Scott will produce alongside Kevin Walsh. “Napoleon is a man I’ve always been fascinated by”, Scott told Deadline.
“He came out of nowhere to rule everything — but all the while he was waging a romantic war with his adulterous wife Josephine. He conquered the world to try to win her love, and when he couldn’t, he conquered it to destroy her, and destroyed himself in the process”.
Scott has always had an interest in historical epics. He’s previously made films such as Gladiator, Kingdom Of Heaven and Exodus: Gods And Kings, and has reportedly wanted to make a Napoleon film for years.
And at 83 years old, Scott shows no signs of slowing down. He recently finished production on The Last Duel, which stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck, and he’s still set to shoot star-studded drama Gucci in March, so Kitbag may have to wait a while.
Apple’s interest in in the film is not particularly surprising. They have been acquiring star-studded projects left and right in a bid to give their streaming service a prestige feel. Kitbag is reportedly unlikely to cost as much as Martin Scorsese‘s Killers Of The Flower Moon – around $180 million – and will be on a similar scale to the Will Smith/Antoine Fuqua thriller Emancipation.
Apple definitely seems more interested in big names and expensive, original films, which is frankly good for the industry, and a different strategy from other studios and streamers who usually pump their money into reboots and blockbusters intended to start franchises.
As mentioned, it’s unclear when production on Kitbag will actually get underway. We’ll wait and see if Gucci does indeed begin shooting in March. If there’s some sort of delay on that, perhaps Scott will reshuffle his schedule and try to shoot Kitbag first.