Rival projects tackle surreal artist's life

Get ready to say hello Dali, and look for lots of one-sheets with melting clocks.

Eighteeen years after his death, Salvador Dali’s life is heading for the bigscreen with a trio of projects, and Al Pacino is attached to star in one.

It won’t be the first exposure of Dali’s work on the bigscreen — Alfred Hitchcock featured the artist’s work in Gregory Peck’s dream sequence in “Spellbound” — but it will be the first biopic about the flamboyant surrealist.

And just as separate biopics about Truman Capote arrived within a year of each other, all three could be heading into production later this year.

“The story of Dali is absolutely timeless, so there’s a lot to say,” notes Peter Rawley, producer of “Dali” through his Very Modern Pictures shingle. “So it’s not surprising that there’s more than one Dali project. But it is a nuisance.”

Pacino signed last month to topline “Dali & I: The Surreal Story” for director Andrew Niccol. Room 9 Entertainment has set a June start date, in New York and Spain, for the story of the painter’s relationship with art dealer Stan Lauryssen, based on latter’s autobiog, during Dali’s later days when the painter was at his most surreal.

Rawley’s “Dali” will be more all-encompassing, covering his mentoring by Pablo Picasso and his ascension to worldwide prominence. Writer-director Philippe Mora notes Dali proved artists didn’t have to starve and suffer for their art.

“He once said that an artist didn’t need to cut his ear off,” Mora notes. “He kind of blazed a trail for artists becoming rich and famous.”

“Dali” has been in development for two years, with Mora and Rawley bringing photog Robert Whitaker on board to assist via his thousands of shots of Dali. Rawley, a former ICM agent, has also set a June start, with lensing in Prague, Barcelona and New York and a budget that could go to $15 million.

The third project has been shepherded by producer David Permut, who acquired the screenplay “Goodbye Dali” by Yaniv Raz and thesp Allan Rich in 2004. Project’s a comic look at Rich’s real-life friendship with Dali as a young art dealer who’s dragged all over Spain in a game of bait-and-switch.

“We’re obviously aware of the other projects, but my philosophy has always been that people will come if you make a good movie,” Permut notes. He’s planning to attach a big-name director and star soon.

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