×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Polanski propels ‘Pompeii’

Director to tackle biggest project yet

Roman Polanski’s next directing effort will be his biggest undertaking yet in terms of scale, subject and budget.

“Pompeii” is a dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of Mt. Vesuvius just before and during its eruption. The budget is projected to be $130 million, the director said.

It is based on the bestseller of the same name by “Fatherland” novelist Robert Harris, who is writing the script. Filming will begin in Italy this summer.

“Pompeii” will be produced by Polanski and Robert Benmussa of RP Productions, along with Alain Sarde. It will draw on private funding sources, as was the case with many of the director’s previous projects.

“It will be handled like our last two films,” Polanski said, “as an independent European production.” No studio or distribution partners as yet have been approached, he said.

Pic’s protagonist is a young engineer who has to repair an enormous aqueduct whose destruction threatens the Roman Empire. He finds himself enmeshed in politics and romance. The film takes place over three days and the final act is the volcanic eruption and the destruction of the aqueduct, which stretched 60 miles and served hundreds of thousands of people.

“I got seduced by the writing,” Polanski told Daily Variety. “In general terms, when someone tells me to make a movie set in ancient times, I say it’s not my cup of tea. But I liked that it was a thriller and I have read all of his books and there is such minute detail. He goes very far into the research.”

Plus, the “Chinatown” helmer added, “There is corruption in connection with water.”

Polanski, who won an Oscar for “The Pianist,” last directed “Oliver Twist.” He also played a supporting role in the Brett Ratner-directed “Rush Hour 3” for New Line.

Telling a period story of a volcano’s eruption will take Polanski into event movie territory. Though “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” were certainly landmarks, they were before the term “tentpole” came into use, and Polanski’s top-grossing release in the years since has been $32 million for “The Pianist.”

“It will be very dependent on visual effects,” he noted. “I don’t like to brandish effects, but the truth is that there have been a lot. ‘Pianist’ had about 200 CGI effects and ‘Oliver Twist’ had at least 400. It’s always a challenge to do something a little different, but that’s what keeps me going.”

Polanski is repped by ICM.

More Film

  • Singapore Actor Aloysius Pang, 28, Dies

    Singaporean Actor Aloysius Pang, 28, Dies While on Military Service

    Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang died Wednesday of injuries sustained while on military training in New Zealand. He was 28. Pang was best known for his appearance in movies “Young & Fabulous” and “Timeless Love.” He also had a string of credits in Singapore TV series. Pang was involved in an accident last week while repairing [...]

  • Alibaba Lends $100 Million to Huayi

    Alibaba Lends $100 Million to Huayi Bros. in Film Investment Expansion

    Alibaba Pictures Group, the film business arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has struck a strategic cooperation deal with leading film studio Huayi Bros. The deal includes a $103 million (RMB700 million) loan to Huayi. Alibaba Pictures said the agreement was part of its recently announced strategy to be involved in major movies aimed for [...]

  • Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear

    Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear Ex'

    Netflix has added to its roster of Mandarin-language content with the acquisition of rights to Taiwanese dark comedy “Dear Ex.” The award-winning film will play out from Feb. 1. The story involves a recently bereaved widow and a gay man fighting over a dead man’s inheritance, with the woman’s teenage son caught in the middle. [...]

  • Audrey Wells

    Film News Roundup: Audrey Wells Scholarships Launched by UCLA, China's Pearl Studio

    In today’s film news roundup, Pearl Studio and UCLA start a “Say Yes!” scholarship in memory of Audrey Well; Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale are honored; and the “General Magic” documentary gets bought. SCHOLARSHIPS UNVEILED China’s Pearl Studio has made a gift of $100,000 for endowed scholarships to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and [...]

  • Honey Boy Knock Down the House

    Sundance Hot Titles List: 13 Buzzy Films That Have Buyers Talking

    There’s a good reason that much of Hollywood braves the thin mountain air each year to make the trek to the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s not to check out the nearby ski slopes. The annual launch of the indie film gathering brings with it the possibility of discovering the next big thing in moviemaking. [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    Will Oscar Nominations Give This Year's Contenders a Box Office Boost?

    With nominees like “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “A Star Is Born,” the 2018 class of movies proved the Oscars don’t need a popular films category to recognize movies that also made bank in theaters. But now that the academy has selected this year’s crop of awards hopefuls, is there any green left to squeeze [...]

  • A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's

    Sundance: A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's Romance-Drama 'The Souvenir'

    A24 has bought the North American rights to Tilda Swinton’s romance-drama “The Souvenir – Part 2,” closing the deal on the eve of the Sundance Film Festival. “The Souvenir” is set to make its world premiere at Sundance on Jan. 27, followed by playing in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival in February. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content