Some 563 years after being burned at the stake, Joan of Arc has become hot in Hollywood. Warner Bros. just completed a buy of the spec script “In Nomine Dei,” by Laeta Kalogridis, the epic story of the peasant girl who led an uprising of the French against the British. Joel Silver will produce the film.
The deal, closed Tuesday by ICM agentsMichael Goldman and Tom Strickler, makes Warner Bros. the third player in the Joan of Arc sweepstakes, as Turner Pictures plans to mount a $ 40 million movie helmed by “Gettysburg” director Ron Maxwell, and Fox is developing “Company of Angels,” a saga on the saint scripted by Jay Cocks (“The Age of Innocence”) for director Kathryn Bigelow.
Singer Sinead O’Connor was attached to the latter project at one time.
“In Nomine Dei” created a stir in the community, with several studios interested. Silver moved quickly to take it off the market, paying $ 300,000 against $ 650,000, sources said. Silver couldn’t be reached for comment, but is expected to turn this into the event action picture for which he’s best known, with a great heroine role for an A-level actress.
Joan of Arc was certainly the patron saint of scribe Kalogridis, the latest of numerous newcomers to land six-figure paydays for their first spec efforts.Two weeks ago, Kalogridis was a reader at Sony Wonder, a position she described as being “as low on the totem pole as you could be without having to take out the trash.”
She had no agent, but sent her script to Goldman and Strickler. They acted quickly, coaxed her to make some changes, including reworking the finale, and replacing the original title –“Joan”– with the more dramatic Latin title.
That was Joan of Arc’s battle cry, which translates “in the name of God.” Just two weeks after getting representation, Kalogridis’ script is set up at a studio, and she’s now finishing her final week in the reader job.
She expects to complete her graduate work in screenwriting at UCLA this spring and finish another spec script.
“I like action-adventure films, and this seemed like a natural, like Robin Hood,” she said. “I thought, why haven’t I seen this movie?”
Previous films on Joan of Arc include Victor Fleming’s “Joan of Arc” in 1948, starring Ingrid Bergman, and Otto Preminger’s “Saint Joan” in 1957, starring Jean Seberg.
Rather than cover the saint’s entire life, Kalogridis’ script focused on Joan’s heroic heyday, when she galvanized the French against the English at the end of the 100 Year War.
“The great thing about a movie like ‘Die Hard’ was that it was an ordinary person trapped in an extraordinary circumstance, who becomes heroic because of that situation,” she said, referring to a previous Silver film.
“I felt that was where other Joan of Arc movies missed. She was a peasant girl, a shepherd, living in a nowhere village.
“She was not some great saint who had visions from God, but rather an ordinary person who’s just right to be an action-adventure hero who saved the country.”