Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment and Voltage Pictures are producing the movie, and Voltage is selling it in Berlin. Emmerich, whose credits include “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” was in town to present the picture to buyers alongside Voltage boss Nicolas Chartier. Constantin won a subsequent auction for German distribution rights.
The film, budgeted in the $60 million to $70 million range, is based on John Coe Robbins’ historical novel of the same title. Emmerich will direct from a script by Angela Workman (“The Zookeeper’s Wife”).
The story follows Guerrero, a soldier, and Father Aguilar, a priest, who survive a shipwreck off of the Yucatan Peninsula and are captured by a Mayan tribe. Guerrero adopts Mayan culture and assimilates, but Aguilar holds fast to his Christian faith. Both are put to the test with the arrival, in 1519, of the conquistadors.
The film is expected to shoot later this year. The producers have compared the project to “Dances With Wolves,” a film Constantin also had. The combination of the German Emmerich’s domestic appeal and the prospect of a sweeping historical epic was enough to convince Germany’s biggest independent producer-distributor to write a check for several million dollars.
Voltage is sealing other deals on “Maya Lord” in Berlin, and Constantin could land it for other territories. U.S. and China rights are repped by CAA.
“I have been passionate about bringing this incredible true story of famed adventurer Gonzalo Guerrero to audiences for a long time, so I am delighted to be joining forces with Nic Chartier and the team at Voltage to bring this rich and powerful film to life,” Emmerich said ahead of EFM.
Chartier added: “This will be the perfect film for buyers who want event movies that can compete with studios’ releases in their countries.”
Centropolis is also working on an adaptation of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and “Midway,” a World War II movie that it will co-produce with The Mark Gordon Company and that is also expected to shoot in 2018.
Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report.