Sam Mendes will be teaming up with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment to direct a World War I drama titled 1917. This will be his first directorial gig since he helmed two back-to-back 007 movies: Skyfall and Spectre.
Based on an original screenplay co-written by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns (who wrote for the Showtime series Penny Dreadful), there are currently no plot details for 1917. That said, the anticipation behind it is massive. Not only did Amblin manage to attain the script through a pitched spec package battle (they were reportedly up against Paramount, Sony, and New Regency), the movie will reunite Mendes with Spielberg. The pair first worked together on Mendes' directorial debut (and eventual Oscar-winner for several top categories, including director and Best Picture), American Beauty, under Spielberg's studio DreamWorks. Two of Mendes' movies that followed - Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road - were also with DreamWorks. Now, he and Spielberg are reuniting to produce an original story set during the World War I.
Mendes co-wrote the script for 1917 with Wilson-Cairns in London while he was working on Jez Butterworth's London stage debut of The Ferryman, and he explained to Deadline that he's not only excited to finally get the movie produced (he had been working on the script for over a year), but he "couldn’t be happier to be back working with Amblin and Steven Spielberg again."
Mendes had initially been attached to direct an adaptation of The Voyeur's Motel (about a motel owner who spies on his guests, only to end up as witness to a murder), which was adapted by Wilson-Cairns, but the project ultimately fell through when a documentary about that same story was released on Netflix. Now, he'll be tackling the original war drama. Though Spielberg refers to it as "hugely daring and ambitious," he remains very discreet as to what the movie is even about.
In the time that Mendes had been working on the script for 1917, he not only directed the play The Ferryman, but helped earn it three Olivier Awards, including Best New Play, Best Actress for Laura Donnelly, and Best Director for Mendes.
With such an eclectic filmography, a war movie seems well suited for Mendes. And while he's no stranger to period movies, having worked on Road to Perdition with Tom Hanks, he's also proven to have a knack for executing action sequences from the 007 movies. That said, 1917 may well turn out be less of an epic war movie like Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, and more like Mendes' own Jarhead.
1917 has a planned December 2019 release date.