By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com June 28, 2011 at 1:45AM
Despite being one of the best-loved directors around, Darren Aronofsky has always had to scramble to get his films financed. Even with an A-lister like Natalie Portman on board, the financing for ballet psychodrama "Black Swan" collapsed weeks before filming was due to start, only saved by the very skin of its teeth. Indeed, it seems that the man with the best mustache in Brooklyn only signed on to superhero tentpole "The Wolverine" because he thought it would be an easy breeze through pre-production.
But things have changed: the $300 million surprise success of "Black Swan" means that Aronofsky is now one of the most sought-after names around, and his next film, a mega-budgeted take on the Biblical tale of Noah and his ark, has had a queue of suitors hoping to get involved once CAA started shopping it around in the last few weeks. And it looks like the film has now found a home: Deadline reports that Paramount are close to coming on board as a co-financier, with New Regency taking up the rest.
Supposedly the bidding war ended up being between Paramount and 20th Century Fox, but despite Aronofsky's production deal with the latter, and New Regency's close relationship with them, it looks like Paramount have taken the lead, and the deal is expected to close shortly. As we said when the project was announced, the adaptation is a pretty strong prospect for any studio, despite the budget (said to be around $130 million) and the director's uncompromising reputation, so we're not surprised it has swiftly found a home.
It can't hurt that it seems that megastar Christian Bale is circling the title role: having an A-lister, fresh off what seems a dead cert to be one of the top grossers of all time, "The Dark Knight Rises" and an Oscar win for "The Fighter" only makes the film a more tempting prospect for executives. There's no mention of Bale in Deadline's story, but Aronofsky hinted pretty strongly that Bale was indeed his choice, so we'd expect to see an official announcement on that soon. There's no word on when they might go before cameras as yet: Aronofsky is meant to sneak in the pilot for the Michael Chabon-penned HBO series "Hobgoblin" at some point, and the lengthy "The Dark Knight Rises" shoot will continue for some months yet. Even so, we'd expect to see "Noah" in theaters before the end of 2013 at the very latest.