Sam Mendes never used to be as busy as he is today. After exiting London stage productions in the late 1990’s, he took the world of cinema by storm with his devastatingly honest portrait of suburbia – the Academy Award winning American Beauty – and followed up three years later with the layered mobster drama Road To Perdition. The auteur would continue to take the same period of time between his next projects (the military commentary Jarhead and the dreary Revolutionary Road), but churned out his self-discovery/road film Away We Go less than a year later.
Now, it appears that Mendes is joining the filmmakers of the 21st Century by attaching himself to numerous developing productions. Though it was previously reported that he might talk a stroll down the Yellow Brick Road in a Wizard of Oz prequel with Robert Downey Jr., Deadline reports that two other projects (three, if you count the troubled Bond 23) intrigued the 44 year old director so much that they compelled him to leave the Emerald City for good.
The first would mark a return to the stage as he’s interested in bringing Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to theatrical life. Hairspray songster’s Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are writing the tunes and the musical is set to premiere in London during the holiday season 2011, followed by a Broadway run.
More interesting is Mendes next reported film project: an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s ‘On Chesil Beach‘. The romantic drama is stationed at Focus Features and centers on two repressed virgins in their early twenties whose attempt to consummate ends badly. Carey Mulligan is in talks to star as one of said virgins.
As a fan of all of his films (well, almost all: Revolutionary Road was painful in more than one way) I look forward to whatever comes next for Mendes, though I would think that he’d need to keep himself flexible if he does want to leave his mark on the Bond franchise, as the sale of MGM (and production on the next spy film) could potentially happen anyday.