When it comes to enlivening entertainment, no one does it quite like Michael Mann. The 67-year-old filmmaker is capable of both grandiose set pieces and intimate character studies, bringing uncanny realism to larger than life scenarios and personalities. Though he’s tackled many genres in more than thirty years in show business, with a signature visual style and a penchant for mature themes, his films are unmistakably his own.
He’s now looking to make another Hollywood movie, but like most power players in Tinsel Town, is having a tough time figuring out which story to tell. Slash Film is reporting that Mann is juggling a handful of projects that are ready to move into production including Big Tuna, Agincourt and his untitled Robert Capa biopic. Read on for descriptions of each followed by my thoughts on what’s the next logical move for Michael Mann.
According to the source, Big Tuna follows the life and times of elderly Chicago mobster Tony Accardo and his young successor Sam Giancana. Mann described the project as follows: “Here’s an older man who was the undisputed boss at a time when the Chicago outfit was the most powerful crime element in America. It becomes a classic tragedy of megalomania and hubris”. Sounds like perfect territory for the man who told the stories of Cassius Clay and John Dillinger, and America will always show up in droves for a new gangster flick. Big Tuna will probably be easiest to get a greenlight from a major studio.
Mann is also flirting with Agincourt, a period action drama written by Michael Hirst (The Tudors, Elizabeth). The film, based on Bernard Cromwell’s novel of the same name, “focuses on a young man with a death sentence on his head who is saved when his skills with the bow catch the attention of King Henry V. The archer develops into a warrior and falls in love with a young woman whose virtue he saved from a lecherous priest, and he becomes the portal to the bloody Battle of Agincourt, made famous by Shakespeare’s Henry V”. This one is significantly more ambitious than Big Tuna. Medieval movies haven’t fared well at the box office as of late (Robin Hood and King Arthur come to mind) and with lots costumes and sets to build, they are increasingly expensive to produce (Ridley Scott’s 2010 entry cost an eye-popping $200 million to make). Plus, Mann doesn’t have an easily marketable title like “Robin Hood” or “King Arthur” to bring people to the theaters, making the investment all the more risky. Don’t count on this one coming to the big screen just yet.
The most interesting project that Michael Mann is developing is a biopic of photojournalist Robert Capa, who captured images of no less than five wars throughout his career and founded the world’s first freelance photography organization, Magnum Photos. Though reenacting a series of wars over the course of many years would be a painstaking and pricey endeavor, I think that there would be a sizable audience for a film about such an interesting individual. With the right actor portraying Capa (Joaquin Phoenix, should he ever return from the Dark Side, would be fantastic in this role), there could be lots of cash to earn and awards to attain from Waiting For Robert Capa (a tentative title for the film, I believe).
Now’s your chance to tell us what you would like Michael Mann to focus on next. Sound off!