Spielberg Eyes Kubrick’s ‘Napoleon’ Script For TV Miniseries

Published 1 year ago by

stephen spielberg lincoln Spielberg Eyes Kubricks Napoleon Script For TV Miniseries

With Lincoln and this year’s Oscar ceremony firmly behind him, Steven Spielberg has set his sights on his next historical undertaking, which looks to be a biopic about Napoleon Bonaparte, based off a screenplay penned by the late Stanley Kubrick.

Spielberg told the French TV network Canal+ that he’s developing Kubrick’s abandoned script with the assistance of the deceased cinema legend’s family. Interestingly, the project is being shaped into a televised miniseries rather than a feature-length film.

Kubrick originally wrote a treatment for a Napoleon biography back in 1961, and — staying true to his detail-oriented, perfectionist nature — reportedly spent years researching his subject in preparation for shooting. Unfortunately, his film wasn’t meant to be; despite delving deep into pre-production in 1969, MGM shut the movie down over budgetary concerns. The silver lining, of course, is that Kubrick went on to make A Clockwork Orange, but it’s difficult not to imagine what Kubrick’s vision of Napoleon’s time as the emperor of France might have looked like.

It stands to reason that Spielberg’s sense of both the man and the era (1804-1815) will differ greatly from Kubrick’s, but his sense of professionalism and immaculate craftsmanship should keep Kubrick’s family quite happy. Providing additional reassurance is the fact that Spielberg has worked, albeit loosely, with Kubrick before; they allegedly engaged in lengthy discussions with one another back in the late ’90s over A.I. Artificial Intelligence before the latter passed away in March of 1999. To this day, Spielberg remains the only person to successfully have taken on one of Kubrick’s many unfinished works, which should speak to his chances for success with Napoleon (depending on how much like/hate A.I.). The cherry on top, of course, is Lincoln, which is an accomplished biopic and may be the best example in Spielberg’s body of work of his ability with establishing period settings.

napoleansm Spielberg Eyes Kubricks Napoleon Script For TV Miniseries

This isn’t the first time in recent memory someone has toyed with the idea of resurrecting one of Kubrick’s old, forgotten scripts. Last fall, Entertainment One announced their intention to make his Civil War piece, Downslope, and a yarn about Canadian minister-turned-bank-robber Herbert Emerson Wilson, titled God Fearing Men, into a TV movie and a TV show, respectively. And three years ago, there was a strong rumor swirling around that Ang Lee would take the director’s chair for The Aryan Papers, Kubrick’s incomplete Holocaust movie. Of course, none of those endeavors actually came to fruition, but if anybody has the clout and the all-around will to cross the finish line with a scrapped Kubrick movie, it’s the Beard himself. In the meantime, Spielberg is busying himself with an adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse.

Presently Napoleon is in the earliest stages of gestation, but Screen Rant will keep you apprised of his efforts on the miniseries we hear more about them.

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Source: THR

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  1. Wasn’t it enough that he ruined Kubrick’s A.I.?

  2. Sound like a good idea I’m all for it

  3. Awesome news that Steven might bring Kubrick’s Napoleon epic to life! But I hope it’s not as sentimentally crap-filled as Artificial Intelligence.

    • Lincoln is the better analogue here; the only thing that this will have in common with A.I. (which I’m also not fond of) is the Kubrick element. Beyond that I’d expect Napoleon to play more in the vein of Lincoln, which I thought was refreshingly unsentimental.

  4. I’ve read the Script for Kubrick’s Napoleon film and it wasn’t that good. With that being said though, I hope Spielberg doesn’t have any creative license with this material. Kubrick was the polar opposite of Spielberg as a filmmaker and the idea of Spielberg having any creative input on this is mind numbingly stupid.

    • A Stanley Kubrick related script that isn’t that good? I find that hard to believe. Every single film he did was great (even The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut).

    • Maybe because like Robert Altman, Kubrick script differs from the product on the screen.
      For those people, script don’t matter

  5. A.I was horrible and I’ve seen it twice
    Just horrible, sentimental crap

    • Agreed, and surely a candidate for Worst Movie Ending Ever.

  6. Another reason for Kubrick shelving his Napoleon was the release (and box office failure) of Waterloo in 1970; a lot of his research and preparatory work ended up being used on Barry Lyndon.

    • Yeah, absolutely true, Dentist. Barry Lyndon wound up benefiting from all the research he did for Napoleon.

      Great point about Waterloo too!

  7. Well damn, I’d have loved to see the Kubrick version. Ill still see this but damn! Question… Why did Kubrick have so many unfinished projects?

  8. Kubrick was great… But isn’t Speilberg great too? Every director makes great and poor films when there career is said and done. When Speilbergs career is over he will probably be considered the best director ever. His body of work is unparalleled.

    So when his name is attached to a Kubrick script, just be excited. Not picking at one or two of his movies you didn’t like seems silly to me..

    • Best director ever? Uh…… no. Not even top 20.

      • Lol not top 20. Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s list, ET, Jurrasic Park, Indiana Jones, that’s not even mentioning 4-5 of his big picture nominees. He’s top ten right now and he still has lots of films to make. I’m sure he already leads the way with most Oscar nominations as well. Not top 20….

  9. **Subtract the “not” at the start of the last sentence**

  10. An effing TV MINI-SERIES?? What a huge bummer. Anything made for TV downgrades and waters down ANY project (sorry, TV-movie lovers). Despite the lame F-Bombs, TV is still much too safe and caters to the general public in a way that saturates the story and filmmaking. C’mon, Steven, go for the big screen and to hell with television. There’s nothing epic about friggin’ television. It’s still a screen in someone’s living room. Just my humble opinion.

    • Speilberg has a relationship with HBO. So I won’t be worried about the “watered down effect” it can be as violent and vulgar as possible on HBO. Only bad thing about it being a mini series is the budget wont even be half as big as if it was going to the movie theaters.

      I rather watch a movie on my big screen LED TV sitting on my lazy boy than watch it in a uncomfortable crowded theater. I only go to the theaters because I’m inpatient and don’t want to wait for the blu ray.

  11. A.I. could have been great but Spielberg tried to make a Stanley Kubrick film and it didn’t work. There’s no denying Spielberg is one of the all time greats but his films and Kubrick’s films are like apples & oranges,

  12. That’s good to hear. Hopefully it’ll be more historically acurate than “Lincoln” (shouldn’t be hard).

  13. I had the opportunity to visit the set of a competing production of “Napoleon”. Film director Ernie Tarte based his adaptation from Kubrick’s own. He contacted me when he learned of this news. I can tell you that he’s quite livid and it would not surprise me if he went through with intent of a lawsuit. My visit on the set of “Napoleon” can be found here: (http://tiny.cc/jycitw). Director Tarte’s response can be found here: (http://tiny.cc/i0citw).