Gal Gadot is set to star as Egyptian queen Cleopatra in a new movie directed by her Wonder Woman director, Patty Jenkins. The film will be produced at Paramount and written by Laeta Kalogridis, whose work includes Alexander, Shutter Island, and the Netflix series Altered Carbon. Cleopatra has been a favorite subject in Hollywood for a century, and Sony Pictures has been working on its own, separate project for years.
The new Cleopatra film originated with Gadot at her Pilot Wave production, and she personally took part in Zoom pitches with Jenkins, Atlas Entertainment's Charles Roven, and Gadot's Pilot Wave partner Jaron Varsano, reports Deadline. Kalogridis outlined the plot beats for the project, which is not tied to a specific biography of the Ancient Egyptian queen. Warner Bros., Netflix, Universal, and Apple were also interested in the project, but the new Paramount Motion Picture Group President Emma Watts won the competition.
Hollywood has made dozens of films about Cleopatra dating back to the silent movie days, but the most famous remains the 1963 epic directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar, and Richard Burton as Marc Antony. The massive film won four Oscars and was a box office success, but its tortured production and exploding costs almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox.
The 1963 experience never stopped Hollywood's fascination with Cleopatra. Angelina Jolie reportedly tried to make a movie about her for years, but it never materialized. Sony Pictures is working on a project based on Stacy Schiff's biography of Cleopatra, and directors reportedly involved in that project have all been men, including James Cameron, Denis Villeneuve, and David Fincher. Several writers have also worked on it, with A Star Is Born's Eric Roth being the latest. According to Deadline, there could be a "footrace" between Paramount and Sony to make the new movie.
Gadot and Jenkins first worked together on Wonder Woman in 2017 and reteamed on Wonder Woman 1984. The sequel was originally set to hit theaters in late 2019 before it was rescheduled to June 2020. Warner Bros. has since delayed it to Christmas Day due to the coronavirus pandemic. Gadot also stars in Kenneth Branagh's Death on the Nile, which is scheduled for Dec. 18. Her next projects include Netflix's Red Notice, a biopic on Irena Sendler and an Apple TV+ series about the life of actress Hedy Lamarr.