Two quick new items via Deadline, both of which happen to concern Oscar-nominated foreign-film makers who are now going to direct films with a biblical element.
1. Joachim Rønning, who co-directed Kon-Tiki (nominated in 2013; it lost to Amour) and is currently in post-production on the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, has signed on to direct Tom Cruise in Methuselah, a “biblical epic” being produced by David Heyman of Harry Potter fame. I last wrote about this film two years ago, before Cruise got involved, and I don’t have any clearer idea now as to what this movie is about than I did back then: Deadline is still saying nothing more than that it is a film about “a man who lived for almost 1,000 years without ageing, all while developing a set of unparalleled survival skills.” The biblical Methuselah was recently played by Anthony Hopkins in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah; interestingly, not only has Hopkins worked with Cruise (on Mission: Impossible II), but Cruise just finished shooting the Mummy reboot with Noah star Russell Crowe. It’s all connected, I tell you.
2. Sergei Bodrov, who directed Prisoner of the Mountains (nominated in 1997; it lost to Kolya) and Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan (nominated in 2008; it lost to The Counterfeiters), has signed on to direct a film about Samson and Delilah. This film will be based not on the Bible directly, but on the novel Samson the Nazirite, written in 1927 by the Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky; Wikipedia says the book “describes Jabotinsky’s ideal of an active, daring, warrior form of Jewish life.” Bodrov has been developing this film for at least six years, and three companies have come together now to finance it; they are currently casting the film, which they plan to shoot next summer in Morocco and Israel, and Deadline says “various significant names are circling the lead roles.” One of the producers is Ashok Amritraj, who was also an executive producer on The Young Messiah and was involved in an early effort to make Risen. Bodrov’s last feature-length effort was the fantasy epic Seventh Son.
— The image above shows Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah in Noah.