Despite the box-office disappointment* that was "Brüno," Sacha Baron Cohen is still commanding high figures these days and is very much in demand. For his next project, Paramount agreed to give the star $20 million against 20% first-dollar gross, all based on a pitch.
That pitch? Cohen would play two roles in a film that crossed the spirit of "Coming To America" and "Trading Places." Last we heard the comedian was set to play both a goat herder and a deposed foreign dictator who get lost in the United States (it also has shades of Paul Mazursky's underated 1985 comedy "Moon Over Parador" where Richard Dreyfusalso played two roles including a foreign dictator).
That film now has an unofficial title -- "The Dictator" -- and also has a director too, Larry Charles who helped bring Cohen to fame with the uber-successful "Borat" and "Brüno."
The L.A. Times says "The Dictator" will be Cohen's next picture after "Hugo Cabret" which is set for a Christmas 2011 release (in 3D of course).
Cohen's got several irons in the fire right now. He's completing work on Marty Scorsese's "Hugo Cabret" currently, has a Freddy Mercury biopic lined up which is being written by Peter Morgan ("The Queen," "Bond 23"), could star in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," for Gore Verbinski over at 20th Century Fox (though a recent Variety report makes that sound very stalled).
While we didn't love either Charles' "Religulous" or "Brüno," we're glad to see the director is on a go-project. He's been attached to several projects in the last few years, including the Motley Crue biopic which seemed to go nowhere, "Winter’s Discontent," a comedy about a sexually frustrated widower trying to get laid who takes matters into his own hands by moving into a retirement community with his best friend, and the long-gestating comedy "Pierre Pierre," by Edwin Cannistraci and Frederick Seton, which made the Black List in 2007. Jim Carrey is attached to that last film, which follows a nihilistic, constantly-smoking, foul-mouthed Frenchman who is hired to transport the Mona Lisa after a theft from Paris to London. It was announced again this summer, but so far nothing's been heard since.
*Relative of course, "Brüno" is often referred to as a "failure" compared to "Borat," but the film did take in nearly $140 million worldwide on a budget of $42 million. Not bad.