Ben Affleck's Argo is sitting atop the U.S. box office, demonstrating that audiences will, in fact, turn out for high-minded history lessons from Hollywood - when they are presented as rousing genre entertainment, that is. That bodes well for George Clooney's next project, an adaptation of Robert M. Edsel's non-fiction book The Monuments Men (which the
former Batman Oscar-nominated actor is directing, in addition to co-starring and writing alongside his trusted collaborator, Grant Heslov).
Many of the same people who worked on Argo (including four-time Oscar-nominee composer Alexander Desplat, who also scored Clooney's Ides of March) are re-collaborating behind the scenes on Monuments Men. Meanwhile, Clooney is going to be joined onscreen by a prestigious collection of thespians and character actors.
Deadline is reporting that the Monuments Men ensemble includes Daniel Craig (who's back as James Bond in Skyfall), Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist), John Goodman (another Argo alum), Golden Globe-nominee Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Bob Balaban (most recently seen as 'Narrator' in Moonrise Kingdom). However, their roles in the film have yet to be officially-revealed.
Here is a synopsis for Edsel's Monuments Men book:
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised. In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.
Monuments Men could be the most 'cinematic' of Clooney's directorial efforts to date, after the dialogue-driven Good Night, and Good Luck., the screwball comedy Leatherheads, and play-based Ides of March. That could help propel Clooney's latest to higher box office returns than his previous films, since more people should be interested in watching a WWII thriller with a pretty killer cast. Not to mention, Monuments Men covers a fascinating, but less-explored, side of the fight against Hitler.
Argo has prompted some 'True Story vs. The Movie' discussions, as it ultimately deviates from some important facts in order to heighten the entertainment level. We shall just have to wait and see how much Monuments Men does (or does not) follow suit - though, don't expect that to prevent people from starting the debate in advance, based solely on Clooney's well-publicized political affiliations.
Filming on Monuments Men is slated to begin next March in Europe.