Since his debut in 1977 with the historical drama, The Duellists, director Ridley Scott has gradually built up an eclectic body of work. His Hollywood career began with the stunning one-two sci-fi punch of Alien and Blade Runner, before heading off into fantasy (Legend), thrillers (Someone To Watch Over Me, Black Rain) and road-trip drama (the Oscar-winning Thelma And Louise).
As James Clayton pointed out in his recent Friday column, the 70-something Sir Ridley shows no sign of slowing down, and if anything, his slate of forthcoming films is somewhat bewildering – in what seems like every other interview, the director will mention another project of one sort or another, which makes working out what he’s likely to be doing over the next few years a little tricky to work out.
So to help, here’s a look at the various film projects Ridley Scott’s mentioned or been attached to over the past five or so years, and a (decidedly unscientific) guess at just how likely they are to happen.
The announcement of this project, and the imminent arrival of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, suggests that we might be in for a miniature Biblical epic revival of sorts. Ridley Scott’s no stranger to historical films on a broad canvas, and stories don’t get much more widescreen than Exodus, a glossy retelling of Moses and the Israelites’ journey out of ancient Egypt.
Will it actually happen? Definitely. Filming’s already begun on Exodus, with Christian Bale playing a well-groomed Moses, and Joel Edgerton playing Rhamses II. The supporting cast includes Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, and if set photos are anything to go by, Ridley Scott’s spared no expense in turning bits of Spain into ancient northern Africa. Although it isn’t made out of real blocks of stone, we’re guessing that a life-size replica Sphinx isn’t a cheap thing to build.
Another historical epic, Tripoli began as a script written by William Monahan about 12 years ago. About American soldier William Eaton and his involvement in the war with Tripoli in the 19th century.
Will it actually happen? Unless it’s miraculously revived, then no. In May this year, Scott told Slash Film that Tripoli didn’t happen because of “a personal thing”, and with new projects coming up all the time, it looks as though this one has fallen by the wayside.
The Kind One
News of Scott’s interest in The Kind One first broke in Hollywood trade publications like Variety back in 2008. A noir thriller set in 1930s Los Angeles, it’s based on the novel of the same name by Tom Epperson, and is about a young man with memory loss who works for the volatile mobster of the title.
Will it actually happen? It’s difficult to say. Since The Kind One‘s announcement five years ago, when Casey Affleck was attached to play the amnesiac protagonist, little else has been said about it. The film’s still listed as “in development” on IMDb, which suggests that it’s still in the very early stages. And with Scott busy on other, potentially more lucrative projects, it’s possible that The Kind One’s been put on the back burner for now.
The Forever War
First published in 1974, Joe Haldeman’s science fiction novel The Forever War won several genre literature awards, and was followed by two follow-up stories, Forever Free and Forever Peace. The book’s about the exhausting effects of time travel and years of war on a physics student named William Mandella, who’s conscripted into a futuristic military force when an interstellar war breaks out.
Will it actually happen? It’s still an outside possibility. The Forever War was another Scott project announced in 2008, and at the time, the director spoke excitedly about finally securing the rights to the novel and his intention to adapt the book as a 3D film in the style of Avatar. Since then, the script’s passed through multiple drafts from various well known writers, including Matthew Michael Carnahan, Dante Harper and David Peoples.
Despite the gulf of time since its initial announcement, Scott still seems confident that The Forever War will still happen. In October, the director provided a brief update on the adaptation’s status, saying that, “We’ve finally got a very good draft”.
We’re certainly intrigued to see how Scott could adapt the book, given his experience both in science fiction and war films – if he could combine the tension and design of Alien with the grittiness of Black Hawk down, then The Forever War could be little short of brilliant.
Brave New World
Aldous Huxley’s hugely influential sci-fi novel, about a future world where births are artificial and illness is almost entirely eradicated, has had a huge impact on literature and cinema, and was adapted for television twice, once in 1980 and again in 1998.
Back in 2008 – a bizarrely busy year for Ridley Scott announcements – Brave New World was another adaptation added to the director’s crowded slate, with Leonard DiCaprio set to star in the lead role.
Will it actually happen? We’re not holding our breath. Mere weeks after Ridley Scott first spoke about adapting Brave New World, The Guardian ran a story stating that he’d put the project on the back burner to focus on The Forever War. In 2012, Scott admitted that, “I don’t know what to do with Brave New World. It’s tough.”
We’d certainly like to see a big-screen adaptation of Brave New World, but with new projects added to Scott’s schedule all the time, this could well be one that’s pushed to the back of the queue.
David Peace’s four Red Riding books, detailing police corruption in Yorkshire in the 1970s and 80s, are troubling, engrossing and beautifully written. And while budget constraints meant that only three of the books were adapted for television in 2009, they captured their tone perfectly, and featured a quite staggering British cast, which included Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, Rebecca Hall and Andrew Garfield.
Shortly after those TV movies aired, it was announced that Columbia Pictures had purchased the rights to remake Red Riding for the big screen, with Ridley Scott attached as director and Steve Zaillian working on the screenplay. Two years later, Zodiac writer James Vanderbilt was said to be writing a new version of the script. Little has been heard from the project since.
Will it actually happen? Possibly not. Condensing the TV version’s six hours of plot into a single film would be a tall order for any writer, and with news circulating that the remake would relocate the story from the north of England to America, we wonder if anything very much of the original books would even be left.
It’s still possible that Red Riding might resurface in the future, but for now, it looks as though the remake may be stuck in pre-production limbo for some time to come.
Undoubtedly the weirdest project connected to Ridley Scott’s name, word of this adaptation of the hit board game first did the rounds in late 2008. One of several toy and board game-related films talked about at the time (Ouija and Clue being others), Monopoly was said to have the writers of Ed Wood – Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski – attached to its script.
According to an interview with Scott in 2010, his version of Monopoly would be a comedy about real estate and the power of avarice. “I wanted to make a movie about the idea of greed. I told them [Hasbro], you know your game can turn your sweetest, dearest aunt into a demon – a nightmare of greed. So that’s what I’m going to do.”
Will it actually happen? It’s looking less and less likely. The Monopoly adaptation was dropped by Universal a couple of years ago, and after the less than stellar performance of Battleship – another Hasbro product – a further film based on a board game is probably less likely than it once was.
While Ridley Scott was working Prometheus‘ post-production, there was some speculation over what he’d be tackling next. One of the proposed projects was Gertrude Bell, a biopic about an English writer and traveller who played a vital role in the establishment of the modern Iraq. Described as “a female Lawrence Of Arabia“, the script was by Jeffrey Caine (who GoldenEye and The Constant Gardener), and Angelina Jolie was said to be attached to the leading role of Bell.
Will it actually happen? It’s all a bit unclear. Werner Herzog has also been working on a Gertrude Bell biopic with Naomi Watts in the starring role, and it was announced in May last year that the film was moving ahead quite rapidly. It wouldn’t be the first time Scott’s gone up against a rival picture about the same topic if he does choose to make a Gertrude Bell film (see also 1492: A Conquest Of Paradise and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery), though, so it may yet happen.
Simon Mann project
Another biopic, this one is about former British army officer Simon Mann and his attempted 2004 coup in Equadorial New Guinnea, Africa. According to Hollywood websites, Gerard Butler was attached as the lead a couple of years ago, but the project hasn’t hit the news since.
Will it actually happen? Possibly, but it could be that, as with such film projects as Mind MGMT (a Dark Horse comic optioned last year) and Child 44 (an adaptation of Tom Rob Smith’s thriller novel announced in 2009), Scott will produce rather than direct. Child 44, for example, is being helmed by Easy Money and Safe House director Daniel Espinosa.
Blade Runner 2
From a visual standpoint, 1982‘s Blade Runner is among the most influential science fiction films of all time, and its meditations on humanity and mortality, all encapsulated in a believable future noir world, make it something of a genre masterpiece. But while numerous videogames and comics have explored the world Scott and his team created over 30 years ago, the director hasn’t been tempted to create a sequel – until now, that is.
Confirmation first went around of a Blade Runner 2 in 2012, which sparked both ripples of excitement and no small amount of nervousness from fans of the first film.
Will it actually happen? Possibly. The original film’s cult following ensures a pre-installed audience of not inconsiderable size, and the Blade Runner universe offers no small amount of scope if the right writer can find it. As has been stated many times in the past, there’s a certain amount of risk involved in trading on one of the most famous names in science fiction history (there’s a reason why Fritz Lang never made a Metropolis 2), and the track record for decent belated prequels isn’t exactly high. But if Scott can get together a story that he and Fox are happy with, there’s certainly a likelihood that we’ll see a Blade Runner 2 in cinemas eventually, even if it isn’t for a couple of years or so yet.
Last year’s Prometheus served as Ridley Scott’s belated return to science fiction filmmaking, and while it wasn’t without its strong points, it wasn’t quite the universe-expanding prequel to Alien that so many had hoped. Prometheus did reasonably well at the box office, though, and Fox announced shortly afterwards that a sequel had been given the greenlight.
Will it actually happen? Chances are reasonably high. As one of its most recognisable franchises, Fox will surely be keen to keep Alien going in one form or another, and if it can make a Prometheus sequel which improves its standing among critics and some fans, then it could keep the series going for many more years to come. Commendably, neither Fox nor Ridley Scott have rushed into getting a new film into production, though the director did reveal in an October interview with Empire that Prometheus 2′s script, reportedly written by Jack Paglen, is now complete.
Ridley Scott has been saying for several years that he’s been interested in making a western, but thus far, he hasn’t had much luck – his long-planned adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, for example, steadfastly refused to happen. Earlier this year, he said that he still wanted to make one, (I want to do a western really badly and I think I’ve got a western this morning,” he told Slash Film back in May), but given that there isn’t even a title or a script for one as yet, a Ridley Scott western is probably still a long way off.
Will it actually happen? Possibly not. A genre largely neglected by filmmakers for years, the disappointing critical and financial performance of The Lone Ranger may have dampened Scott’s chances of getting his own western into production. The Coen brothers’ True Grit proved that audiences will pay to see a genre film, though, and if anyone can get a film made in a less-favoured genre, it’s probably Ridley Scott – he managed to make a successful sword-and-sandal film with Gladiator, for example, and if he can do the same thing with Exodus, he may yet get his western project off the ground before too long.
Untitled Sports Drama
Shortly before his crime drama The Counsellor arrived in UK cinemas, Ridley Scott added yet another possible film to his teetering pile of scripts. Currently untitled, it’s described as a drama about the effects of concussion in American football. Evidently in the very early stages of development, little else is currently known about it, but given Scott’s standing, we can safely expect a strong writer and a sterling cast to be attached to it fairly soon.
Will it actually happen? The chances could be high. While admirers of Scott’s forays into science fiction and fantasy are probably hoping that he keeps making films in those genres, such films are expensive and time-consuming to make. It could be, therefore, that in the later stages of his career, he’ll choose to make films more akin to The Counsellor instead – starry dramas which are less punishing to put together than something like Prometheus, which required the creation of gigantic sets and an extended pre-production.
So while we’d very much like to see a Prometheus sequel, or, more cautiously, another Blade Runner, it could be that Scott will choose to concentrate his energies on less fantastical work over the next few years.
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