Scott Derrickson to direct Paradise Lost!

Variety reports that Scott Derrickson, director and co-writer of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, is attached to direct (and co-write?) a big-screen adaptation of John Milton‘s Paradise Lost! The film is being developed by Legendary Pictures, the outfit behind Batman Begins and the upcoming Superman Returns. Variety also says:

“Paradise Lost,” published in 1667, tells the story of Lucifer’s failed rebellion in heaven and subsequent role in Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. . . .

Phil DiBlasi and Byron Willinger did the adaptation of “Paradise Lost.” Stuart Hazeldine (“Battle Chasers”) will work on the development process with Derrickson (who directed and co-wrote “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and take on additional writing duties. Derrickson studied theology as a college undergrad. . . .

[Legendary CEO Thomas] Tull told Daily Variety there’s no timetable set, adding, “Given the gravity of the source material, it’s really important to get it right. It will be ready when it’s ready.” . . .

Me, I can’t help thinking it would be really neat if this film came out around the same time as the movie version of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, since the ‘His Dark Materials‘ trilogy of which it is a part was, in some ways, a response to, or re-working of, Milton’s poem. Could be one of those nice coincidences.

APR 20 UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter says Legendary Pictures “is looking to make a live-action film epic with a budget north of $100 million,” and adds this great quote:

“This is the war that started all wars, and it will certainly have an epic feel to it,” Legendary chairman and CEO Thomas Tull said. “If you want to get biblical, when God needed something done, He sent in angels. And these can be pretty fierce creatures. So if you think about what that epic battle looked like and try to realize visually what it would have looked like, it can potentially be pretty incredible.”

Sounds like they’ve got the right approach, at least, so long as they stay true to the themes behind those visuals and don’t turn this into just another fantasy war movie. And while I’m not normally the sort of person to suggest that we should pray for filmmakers, I am inclined to do so here. There are so many aspects to this project that any relatively new director might find daunting — the massive budget, the deep theological themes, the responsibility of adapting such a classic work of literature, the fact that this will be the first major movie devoted entirely to the Creation and Fall, etc. — that I don’t think Scott would mind the support.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14715376140228118442 Jeffrey Overstreet

    Coffee spilling…

    Eyes bugging out of head…

    Choking…

    Standing up…

    Gripping computer monitor and shaking it…

    Conflicting feelings of joy, bewilderment, and apprehension competing for attention…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11340006144797496514 RC

    That’s crazy…I’m not sure how I feel about this either…

    hum? I liked Batman returns so maybe Legendary pictures is a good backing…

    Interesting…for sure.

    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06314638969031894375 Paula

    Peter!! Glad to find your blog.

    Not sure how Paradise Lost will translate on screen. Yeesh!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15469878550662143348 fallen-astro-angel

    If he f**ks this up I am going to assassinate him. That is my favorite epic…ever.

    I’m actually tembling a bit from this news too. This morning I decided that I wanted to write a screenplay for Paradise Lost, and thought I’d just check to see what had been done with it thus far. Coincidence? Creepy.


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