Steven Spielberg to Turn Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Napoleon’ Into a Mini-Series

The project is based on a 1961 screenplay written by Stanley Kubrick, which no Hollywood studio would touch at the time.

Steven Spielberg is developing a Stanley Kubrick screenplay into a Napoleon Bonaparte mini-series
Steven Spielberg is developing a Stanley Kubrick screenplay into a Napoleon Bonaparte mini-series
Director Steven Spielberg is turning an unproduced Stanley Kubrick screenplay about French leader Napoleon Bonaparte into a TV mini-series.

Here's what the filmmaker had to say in a recent interview.

"I've been developing Stanley Kubrick's screenplay for a miniseries, not for a motion picture, about the life of Napoleon. Kubrick wrote the script in 1961, long time ago. And the Kubrick family, because we made A.I.: Artificial Intelligence together, the Kubrick family and I, the next project we are working on, the miniseries is going to be Napoleon."

After Stanely Kubrick's death in 1999, Steven Spielberg took the reins on A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, which was released in 2001.

Stanley Kubrick tried to make his Napoleon movie throughout the 1960s before abandoning it in the early 1970s after no Hollywood studio would finance the project. The late filmmaker researched the French leader for years, and offered the lead roles to Oskar Werner and Audrey Hepburn.

It isn't known if Steven Spielberg is working with a screenwriter for this mini-series, or if it has a network home at this time. He has previously produced the popular mini-series' Band of Brothers and The Pacific, both of which aired on HBO. We also reported in January that Steven Spielberg is reuniting with Tom Hanks and HBO for a third World War II mini-series.

Sources: Canal+, The Guardian

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Comments (17)

  1. LegendaryLew

    I was recently on the set of a new production of "Napoleon." This version is being directed by Ernie Tarte, and he claims to base it on Kubrick's original idea. I've been in contact with Mr. Tarte since the news surfaced of Spielberg's production. Needless to say, he's not pleased and is even threatening legal action. My visit to the set of "Napoleon" and Mr. Tarte's response to Steven Spielberg can be found at The Underground Multiplex (.com)

    2 years agoby @LegendaryLewFlag

  2. thedude-abides

    @skywise I hope so. I'm just thankful it's going to be a miniseries and not a feature.

    2 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  3. thedude-abides

    @bawnian-dexeus There's more where that came from! :D

    2 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  4. Corey W.

    Spielberg needs to stop giving history lessons. Lincoln really drew me away from being a fan of his.

    2 years agoby @coreyFlag

  5. skywise

    But having said that, I am excited to see a mini series on Napoleon. I think that there is a lot of potential there. Spielberg knows one thing very well and that is grandeur. Has a historical piece I think this is something he could handle well in the miniseries format.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  6. skywise

    @thedude-abides I agree that there is no doubt it would have been a different movie. It would be impossible for it not to be and I think it was a good effort by Spielberg to do this as an homage. I have never read the original script so I cant speak on that but whatever they had was flat and lifeless.

    I was excited when i initially heard that Spielberg would do this but to this day I have a very hard time sitting thru any portion of this film. This film was dead on arrival.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  7. thedude-abides

    @skywise Part of me feels that way as well. I find it very telling Kubrick tried pawning it off on Spielberg while he was still alive, saying things like, "I have a reputation to maintain." It was a project Kubrick could never quite get where he wanted it to go during the planning phases, and part of me feels he wanted nothing to do with it, instead turning his attention to Eyes Wide Shut.

    Then again, another part of me knows it would've been a complete and total 180 from the film Spielberg made, and I wouldn't put it past the man to have made it into another masterpiece, just as he had almost all of his other works.

    2 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  8. skywise

    Im sorry but AI was going to suck no matter who made it.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  9. the Narrator

    Agreed, @bawnian-dexeus. Spielberg didn't necessarily make it a crap film, but he definitely dulled it down substantially as opposed to what could have been done with Kubrick. I think @thedude-abides summed it up best in that they're of two different mindsets when it comes to their outlook on life, which spills over into other projects. Artificial Intelligence was far too chipper and friendly a film to be taken seriously, despite some of its proposed material being rather harrowing. I think that makes all the difference in a world when it comes to a film.

    2 years agoby @narratorFlag

  10. thedude-abides

    @gallagher When did Kubrick offer the role to Oskar Werner? It's a known fact Jack Nicholson was offered the lead role of Napoleon, which is why he was later cast in The Shining, because Kubrick was upset he never got to work with him ten years earlier, on Napoleon.

    I say ten years because there is another discrepancy, in Spielberg's quote. The final draft of the screenplay wasn't finished until '69. It wasn't until that time Napoleon moved into pre-production, and was just about to begin shooting when the film's financiers backed out because Waterloo (1970) had just been made and they were worried that there wouldn't be much interest in "another Napoleon" movie, which is why the film ultimately fell though.

    That notwithstanding, Jack Nicholson was attached and in place to play the part of Napoleon when the film moved into production, just prior to it falling through. My only guess is, if the first draft of the script was indeed finished in '61, perhaps Kubrick did have Werner in mind to play the role, seeing as how Jack didn't bust onto the scene until the late '60s, but that's the only sense I can make of it.

    2 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  11. thedude-abides

    F*ck this. A.I. is probably Spielberg's worst film to date, 1941 notwithstanding. They're of two completely different artistic mindsets, are Kubrick and Spielberg. Spielberg is extremely optimistic, while Kubrick's worldview was that of a very pessimistic nature. I've read Kubrick's Napoleon several times, and the last person who comes to mind when I think about it being brought to life is Steven Spielberg.

    I guess the silver lining here is that he's not attempting to turn another one of Kubrick's projects, in this case the one commonly referred to as, "the greatest movie never made," into another atrocity of cinema, instead settling for television.

    I don't mind someone trying to bring this unfinished masterpiece to life...they just got the wrong guy to do it. Again.

    2 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  12. Josh

    Woah. Awesome.

    2 years agoby @shuabertFlag

  13. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @narrator Agreed. A childhood favorite with a favorite director, but cold have been done wonders with Kubrick

    2 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  14. the Narrator

    Did anyone else feel as though A.I. could have been brilliant in Kubrick's hands, but ended up being just "good" in Spielbergs? I felt like the film didn't get the seedy dark humor down that is often found in Kubrick's films.

    2 years agoby @narratorFlag

  15. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    Speak of the devil

    2 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

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