HBO is preparing a miniseries based on Stanley Kubrick’s research for a film dubbed his “greatest never-made film” — a planned story on French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s 19th century struggle to bring Europe under his total control. True Detective Emmy winner Cary Fukunaga is in talks to direct the mini, which is in development at the premium cable network.
Kubrick spent years in the 1960s researching the film he intended to shoot in France, Britain and Romania, using 30,000 members of the then-communist country’s army for vast battle scenes.
Plans for the project were shelved — after Kubrick had written a script and created a meticulous database of more than 17,000 images of Napoleonic-era paintings and artifacts — partially because the release of Soviet director Sergei Bondarchuk’s films War and Peace and later Waterloo made it a tougher commercial proposition.
Kubrick’s family — including sister Christine and Jan Harlan, the latter an executive producer on many of his films — have now opened the archive to HBO. The project is inspired by Kubrick’s work-in-progress original script and will be informed by the Kubrick estate and his extensive, personally curated archive.
The move comes three years after reports of interest in revisiting the project when Steven Spielberg said he was developing a TV miniseries based on the research. Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey will exec produce the project via their Amblin Television banner. The drama is a co-production with HBO and MGM.
Harlan told The Hollywood Reporter that HBO Films president Len Amato and writer/co-exec producer David Leland visited the family’s big archives in the U.K. to study and copy items. The long-in-the-works drama previously drew interest from director Baz Luhrmann in 2013, with the drama back in development now with Fukunaga.
“I am sure HBO will take full advantage of the material we have. We have provided [them] with stacks of material,” he said. “I am delighted that Stanley’s huge efforts may finally lead to a film.”
Fukunaga directed and exec produced season one of HBO anthology True Detective and counts Beasts of No Nation among his credits. He’s also prepping The Alienist for TNT. British-born Leland has a long career as an actor, writer and director, whose credits include Showtime’s The Borgias.