According to Deadline, Universal is circling Gal Gadot‘s Cleopatra epic that was originally set up at Paramount. Paramount is reportedly still interested in the project, but is not prepared to meet the timeline that the creative elements necessitate, so Universal are looking to swoop in.
Kari Skogland (The Falcon And The Winter Solider) is directing the film, having taken over from Gadot’s frequent collaborator Patty Jenkins after she stepped aside to focus on the third Wonder Woman film as well as Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.
Jenkins remains on board as a producer. Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island, Alexander) is writing the script.
Cleopatra was the daughter of Ptolemy, who was the leader of Alexander the Great‘s army. When Rome’s ruler Julius Caesar‘s mentor-turned-rival Pompey fled to Egypt after a brutal war for control of the empire, Egypt became a fixation of Roman rulers, with two siblings battling for the throne of Egypt.
After winning that internal struggle by appealing personally to Caesar, Cleopatra had a complicated relationship with Rome, becoming the lover of Caesar and later Marc Antony. The latter alliance would become the undoing of both of them.
Wherever studio this project ends up at, it will have the shadow of the former Cleopatra movie hanging over it, as that was an industry-defining title.
At the time, it was the most expensive film ever made and paid its lead Elizabeth Taylor a record sum of $1 million. But it also went through notorious production troubles, although it ended up pulling off a minor miracle; a 4-hour epic that garnered nine Oscar nominations.
Gadot is obviously a very different actor than Taylor was, and 4-hour historical epics are mostly a thing of the past, so we should expect a very different film with this version. But Universal and Paramount are obviously weighing up the pros and cons of sinking so much money into a project that isn’t a guaranteed blockbuster.
Deadline stresses that there are currently no deals in place at Universal, so the project remains at Paramount for now, but we’ll wait and see what happens.
Gadot was most recently seen in Death On The Nile, while she’s currently filming the role as the Evil Queen in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Snow White, as well as the lead in Tom Harper‘s spy thriller Heart Of Stone, which is being made for Netflix.