Of the five motion pictures that CBS Films has distributed theatrically over the past year, only The Mechanic has managed to do solid business at the box office. The company aims to improve its win streak by picking up the rights to the remake of Gambit (no connection to the X-Men character), with a script penned by Joel and Ethan Coen.
Newly minted Oscar-winner Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz are attached to star in the production, with The Last Station helmer Michael Hoffman set to direct the Coen Brothers’ screenplay.
CBS just released the fairy tale retelling Beastly with young adult heartthrobs Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) and Vanessa Hudgens (Sucker Punch), but the film’s box office performance has been mediocre so far. Deadline says that the acquisition of Gambit is “meant to bolster CBS’ slate of homegrown pictures” – and given the talent involved with the remake, this seems like a fitting move in that direction.
The original 1966 film Gambit was directed by Ronald Neame (The Poseidon Adventure) and featured Michael Caine as a would-be successful robber who seeks the assistance of a lovely lady (Shirley MacLaine) to pull off the ultimate crime. Firth will star in the remake as an art curator out to con the richest man in England, with the aid of a Texan rodeo queen (Diaz).
Gambit will undoubtedly contain much of the Coens’ trademark dark humor and often warped approach to character design. The filmmaking siblings are well renowned for their tendency to rework and tinker with genre conventions in an unexpected manner, so there’s good reason to suspect that Gambit won’t play out much like the standard Hollywood caper flick.
Firth and Diaz should work well enough as an odd couple pairing, though its seems unlikely that the two will light up the screen with their romantic chemistry. Chances are good that Gambit will play their relationship more for laughs, pitting Firth’s prim and proper English manners against Diaz’ more outspoken and attention-drawing American persona. Seeing as that the Coens won’t be working behind the camera this time around, the movie probably won’t feel or look quite as off-kilter as the rest of their filmography.
Gambit is currently expected to reach theaters sometime in 2012.