Monday, June 17, 2024

“Cleopatra,” The Movie That Almost Sank A Studio with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Will Be Made Again– by the Wonder Woman Team


You’re too young to remember “Cleopatra,” the 1963 movie that cost so much and lost so much that it literally almost destroyed 20th Century Fox. Of course, last year Fox was sold to Disney and doesn’t exist anymore. But “Cleopatra,” you could say, is where it all began.

The film starred the hottest movie stars of the day, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who became a couple and the top tabloid subjects of all time when they left their spouses for each other. Meantime, Fox — which almost went bankrupt– sold most of their property, thus creating Century City in West Los Angeles. That’s how bad things were. (I miss the old Century City mall.)

So why not make it again? Paramount, ironically run by Jim Giannopolous, a former head of 20th (more recently, not in 1963) has won an auction to take a new crack at Cleo with the “Wonder Woman” team. Patty Jenkins will direct her Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, as Queen of the Nile. Who will play Mark Antony? Chris Pine? I don’t think so, but you never know these days.

In the original, Julius Caesar was inhabited by Rex Harrison, who was then only 55. Is it time for Daniel Day Lewis to come out of retirement? Stephen Dillane sound good? Can Mark Rylance play every part in the movie? Time will tell.

It should be meaningful that the auction went to Paramount, and not to Warner Bros. where Jenkins and Gadot have had their successes. Also, Disney, which owns Fox, won’t be revisiting their good old days.

Now this is something to look forward to!




Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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