In an announcement made this week, it was confirmed Mississippi Burning writer Chris Gerolmo is going to pen a pilot for the new series, the script of which Scorsese will direct and executive produce.
According to Deadline:
Cortes will tell the sweeping story of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who brought down the Aztec empire; Malinche, the Mayan girl who helped him do it; and Montezuma, the Aztec leader he befriended and finally put in chains.
At the moment, current analysis indicates actor Benecio Del Toro (who’s also attached as an executive producer) is interested in starring in the role of Hernán Cortés for Scorsese, though there’s no official confirmation of a deal at this time.
By the airing of its series finale, Boardwalk Empire only scored less than half of the viewers it saw during its first premiere, but the street-cred HBO earned by having a “Martin Scorsese drama” on the air was more than worth the cost of keep the show around. That said, doing a 1920s- period drama is a far cry from doing a late 1400s-set epic, and it’s going to take more than street-cred for HBO to keep this one going past season two… it’s going to need an audience. A real one.
That said, Boardwalk Empire won an Emmy for its pilot thanks to Scorsese’s direction, and if there’s one thing the premium cable network loves, it’s Emmys, as made evident by its True Detective push for best drama this past year. So there’s no doubt if Scorsese’s on board, the series is a sure fire lock for a best director nomination, which will surely warrant a series order at the very least.
It’s also a safe bet to assume HBO’s looking for another “epic” to pair with juggernaut Game of Thrones in its slate of programming. Not necessarily something to air with on the same night, but rather a series that can pick up the mantle of the David Benioff/D. B. Weiss drama when it goes on break. Should that audience attraction occur, it would give HBO a 9-month long domination of Sunday night drama between Game of Thrones, True Detective and Cortes, and that’s nothing to ignore.
We'll bring you more information on Cortes when we have it.