By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 8, 2011 at 1:02AM
'Hugo Cabret' Writer John Logan Polishing Script
The success of "Black Swan" -- $300 million dollars, a brace of Oscar nominations, including a victory for Natalie Portman as Best Actress -- has finally given Darren Aronofsky serious cache in Hollywood. Not that he hadn't been hotly tipped before -- "The Fountain" was originally a big-budgeted production with Brad Pitt and he'd been courted for the likes of 'Batman,' "Superman," and was even attached to "The Wolverine" until he bailed earlier in the year, no longer needing to do "one for them," having already succeeded in a big way on his own terms.
Since he departed "The Wolverine," speculation about the director's next project has been rife: he was already attached to the sci-fi picture "Machine Man," from "Black Swan" scribe Mark Heyman, and was also linked to another futuristic tale, "Human Nature," with George Clooney, and was allegedly being courted to replace Tim Burton on fairy tale re-envisioning "Maleficent," and to helm the religious epic "Moses" (the latter of which is now confirmed as having crossed his desk). At the time, we pleaded with executives to let Aronofsky direct whatever he wanted next time around, and, fingers crossed, it looks like it might be happening.
The director has been attempting to make a dark, complex version of the Biblical tale of Noah's Ark since at least 2007, but has found financing for the expensive project hard to come by, particularly after the ambitious "The Fountain" tanked. Earlier in the year, it was announced that Aronofsky was collaborating with comic book artist Nico Henrichon on a graphic novel take on the tale, which Aronofsky hoped to use to gather more interest in a big-screen version, and it sounds like that's exactly what he's done: Deadline reports that the director wants to make "Noah" his next film, and is currently looking for financing around town.
Aronofsky's script has been rewritten by the Oscar-nominated John Logan, writer of "The Aviator," "Gladiator" and three of the biggest projects coming up the pipeline, in the shape of "Hugo Cabret," "Bond 23" and Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." The film is being budgeted at a hefty $130 million, with New Regency said to be close to putting up half of the money, while Paramount, Fox and Summit are all considering making up the rest.
Way back when, Aronofsky talked about his vision from the project, and while we're sure things have changed over time, it's a good hint as to where the film may be heading: "It’s a great script and it’s huge. And we’re starting to feel out talent. And then we’ll probably try and set it up… It’s the end of the world and it’s the second most famous ship after the Titanic. So I’m not sure why any studio won’t want to make it…It’s a really cool project and I think it’s really timely because it’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist. He’s a really interesting character. Hopefully they’ll let me make it. Noah was the first person to plant vineyards and drink wine and get drunk. It’s there in the Bible – it was one of the first things he did when he reached land. There was some real survivor’s guilt going on there. He’s a dark, complicated character.”
While Aronofsky's had problems getting this film financed in the past (as he has with all of his films so far), the stars seem to be lining up this time around: the co-financing package lessens the risk for both partners, the presence of the very hot Logan must be comforting, and the director's proven that he can wow audiences as well as critics. As such, we'd be surprised if someone didn't step in to make this sooner rather than later. There's obviously no word on a start date yet, but if the director gets the money and a cast together, it's conceivable that this could be going before the end of the year.