By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 6, 2014 at 10:58AM
For a guy as prolific as Steven Spielberg tends to be, 2013 was a curious year for the filmmaker. Following "Lincoln," the director had long been planning to make "Robopocalypse," but he shelved the project in January, citing that the script needed more work. He then lined up "American Sniper" with Bradley Cooper slated to star, only to drop out of that too, with Clint Eastwood taking over the director's chair. And while Spielberg as plethora of producing projects on the go (including Stanley Kubrick's vision of "Napoleon" with Baz Luhrmann to helm), it's not certain what he'll direct next. But another option has come to the table.
Deadline reports that Spielberg is eyeing "Montezuma," which is based on a fifty year old script penned by the legendary Dalton Trumbo. As the story goes, Kirk Douglas had commissioned the script from his (at the time) regular collaborator Trumbo (who also penned "Spartacus"), with the screenwriter turning in a draft running a whopping 205-pages. Martin Ritt ("Hud," "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold") was slated to direct, but the project fell apart... Until now...
Steve Zaillian will give the project a rewrite, with Trumbo (according to the book "The Films Of Martin Ritt: Fanfare For The Common Man") describing the story as following Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez's attempts "to instruct the heathen in the true faith, to explore and map the western coastlands, and cultivate trade and commerce."
Javier Bardem is apparently interested in the role of Cortez (which could see the title of the movie changed to, you guessed it, "Cortez"), and it's a helluva part, with Trumbo once describing the character as "an intellectual who is also a man of action, fanatically religious who is no stranger to cynicism...an adventurer and statesman, brave but not ashamed to run for his life."
Sounds like great material, but all that being said, Deadline isn't sure "if this is next or far down the line." Indeed, with Spielberg noting that the current climate nearly saw "Lincoln" go to HBO, we wonder what studio is going to pony up the dough for what sounds like a very expensive drama set in the 16th century about the fall of the Aztec empire. Where's the toys or sequels in that? But as always, one to keep an eye on.