‘Titus’ fit for Taymor, screen

Gotham stage director Julie Taymor has signed on with First Look Pictures to helm a feature film version of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.” The move marks another reach towards the mainstream for the edgy director, best known for her use of ritual masks, ancient myth and surreal stage design, who was tapped by Disney chairman Michael Eisner to stage “The Lion King” on Broadway,

The move is a return to the Bard biz for First Look, the domestic releasing division of Overseas Filmgroup, which packaged the Ian McKellen-starrer “Richard III,” a United Artists release.

First Look co-topper Ellen Little said, “We feel that (Taymor’s) amazing talent will be like a magnet to the project, attracting major stars and a first-rate creative team.”

“I’m excited at the prospect of making “Titus” as a film — it’s something I have visualized over the years,” said Taymor, who previously staged the work at Gotham’s Theater for a New Audience in 1994. “The Lion King” opens Disney’s newly restored New Amsterdam Theater this fall.

Composing the “Titus” film score is Taymor’s husband and frequent collaborator Elliot Goldenthal, who previously scored “Drugstore Cowboy,” “Interview With the Vampire” and is Oscar-nominated this year for “Michael Collins.”Taymor is a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient whose last West Coast production was the critically acclaimed 1996 staging of “The Green Bird” at the La Jolla Playhouse. She described “Titus,” one of Shakespeare’s earliest and most violent works, as “a tragedy about the endless cycle of violence itself and, for that very reason, it has a profound contemporary resonance.”

The project was brought to First Look by Stephen Bannon, who is vice chairman of the publicly held company and will serve as an exec director, and by Mark Bisgeier and Brad Mosely of Pacifica Pictures.

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