Pathé and Dimitri Rassam’s Chapter 2, a Mediawan Company, have unveiled the first stills of their sprawling $75 million two-part European film based on Alexandre Dumas’s masterpiece “The Three Musketeers” – D’Artagnan” and “The Three Musketeers – Milady.”
The companies will present a 15-minute promo reel at Cannes. Directed by Martin Bourboulon (“Eiffel”), the two ‘Musketeers’ films are currently completing principal photography after more than 140 days of shooting at prestigious French landmarks, including the Louvre Palace, the Hôtel des Invalides, the Castles of Fontainebleau and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fort la Latte and Chantilly, as well as the citadel of Saint-Malo and the historic city center of Troyes.
Penned by Alexandre de la Patellière and Matthieu Delaporte (“What’s in a Name?”), the films are headlined by a galaxy of stars who have an international profile, including François Civil (“The Stronghold”), Vincent Cassel (“Black Swan”), Eva Green (“Casino Royal”), Romain Duris (“Eiffel”), Vicky Krieps (“Phantom Thread”), Pio Marmai (“Rise”), Louis Garrel (“DNA”), Lyna Khoudri (“Papicha”) and Jacob Fortune Lloyd (“The Queen’s Gambit”). The topnotch key crew boasts Nicholas Bolduc, the Canadian cinematographer of “Enemy” and “La Belle Epoque,” and Guillaume Roussel, the music composer who’s previously worked on “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and Netflix’s “The Spy.”
“It has been been an extraordinary production experience in every way as we’ve aimed to elevate ourselves to the level of Dumas’ incredible sense of adventure,” said Rassam. One of France’s most ambitious producers, Rassam said the idea from the get go was to adapt this literary masterpiece in French and shoot it entirely on location in France. “With Jerome Seydoux and Ardavan Safaee at Pathé, we had the drive to be sincere in our approach and give those productions a true European footing to continue the tradition of epic French classics such as ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ whose authenticity, international and universal appeal transcend the issue of language,” said Rassam, who admitted to being a history buff. As with Dumas’ book, the films also shed light on the “rich history of France during the 17th century which is still connected to our times,” he said.
Bourboulon said “shooting these films in natural decors, on location, has been fantastic because it gives them a certain realism which (he’s) reinforced through the mise-en-scene that (he’s) wanted to be immersive rather than observatory.”
“The camera moves with the characters, including during the action scenes, and I use over-the-shoulder shots and sequence shots to be as close as possible to the musketeers,” added the filmmaker. He pointed out this modern mise-en-scene was a way to reboot the image of Alexandre Dumas’ classic. The promo showcases one of the most impressive scenes of the film — a long sequence shot following d’Artagnan as he arrives at the French king’s court. Bourboulon said the films were also more character-driven than a typical period film. He said the large budget allowed him and the crew to access all the resources needed to create an entertainment that matches their creative vision.”
Safaee, Pathé Films president, pointed out the 125-year old company first produced ‘The Three Musketeers’ a hundred years ago in 1922. “Producing historical frescos and epic films has always been in Pathé’s DNA and will continue being a crucial part of our strategy going forward as independent distributors need these types of event movies to lure back audiences in theaters,” added Safaee, who cited Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “L’Ours” and Patrice Chereau’s “Queen Margot” as examples of previous Pathé films of a similar scale as “The Three Musketeers.” The high-ranking executive said Pathé and Chapter 2 are also signing a publishing deal with Gallimard and will work hand-in-hand with distributors in each market to orchestrate a bullish marketing campaign for the movies.
Rassam said he wanted the “Musketeers” to bring together the best actors, creatives and crews to create a true spectacle and a global event that will be enjoyed by the generations to come, along the lines of “Indiana Jones” or some Ridley Scott movies. “I grew up with ‘The Three Musketeers’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ and I’ve always loved how these flamboyant these films were, weaving adventure, action and humor, a form of panache,” said Rassam.
The scale of the production is way above French standards, especially in the COVID-19 era. “Dumas’ masterpiece is 800 pages so we couldn’t make just one film, just like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was adapted into a trilogy,” said Rassam, adding that 650 horses and 9,000 extras have been used for the productions. The characters have also been modernized to appeal to today’s audiences, for instance the female characters of Milady (Green) and Anne d’Autriche (Krieps).
These two instalments of the ‘Musketeers’ franchise have already been picked up by major European distributors, including Germany’s Constantin, Spain’s DeAPlaneta and Italy’s Notorious.
“The Three Musketeers – D’Artagnan” will be released in France and Switzerland on April 5, 2023, while “The Three Musketeers – Milady” will be released 8 months later, on Dec. 13., 2023.