With a four-hour Che epic, a top-shelf legal thriller and a porn-star-led comedy all ahead of him, Steven Soderbergh's next movie had to be big if he wanted to keep up the attention he’s received in recent years. And big it is. The director has tapped Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hugh Jackman and disbanded indie-rock outfit Guided by Voices for Cleo, a 3D rock musical about Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony.
The film is planned to carry a $30 million price tag, roughly on par
with the $45 million funneled into Across the Universe, another
unconventional musical with similar ambition. Soderbergh has been know
to alternate indiscriminately between different genres and styles, and this certainly fits the bill.
The film will mark Zeta-Jones' return to
musicals since she won an Oscar for playing Velma Kelly in the
screen version of Chicago. (She previously worked with Soderbergh on
Traffic and Ocean’s Twelve.) Cleo will be Soderbergh’s first
collaboration with Jackman, who has earned a reputation on stage over the
years as well.
The score has apparently already been written by Guided by Voices with
a screenplay to match by James Greer, who wrote a book on the band that included a foreword by Soderbergh. Exact
collaborators are not clear, but members of the band have been involved
in other work since they disbanded in 2004.
The film will be next in
Soderbergh’s queue after he wraps The Girlfriend Experience, a comedy about high-cost call girls set to star porn darling Sasha Grey.
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