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We are in an odd, swirling cycle of literary and historical remakes, with Hollywood ramping up productions of previously picked-over source materials to re-introduce legends like King Arthur and The Three Musketeers to fresh audiences. Up next in the déjà vu machine, according to reports, will be another of Alexandre Dumas’ adventure novels, albeit with a modern twist.
Warner Bros., which also rebooted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes with great financial success, will mount a futuristic version of Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, putting the project on a fast track and pitching it out to potential directors. Variety says screenwriter Ian Shorr has conceived a idea that sets the classic tale of a man wrongfully imprisoned in a futuristic setting, yet one that we assume still taps into the themes of vengeance and repentance that are crucial to Dumas’ novel.
This isn’t Hollywood’s first dance with the Count -- far from it. As far back as 1934, there have been film and television adaptations of Dumas’ timeless work. The most recent, directed by Kevin Reynolds in 2002, was a straightforward interpretation that starred Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, future Superman Henry Cavill and Luis Guzman of all people. It made $75 million at the global box office.
While I’d much rather support projects built on a foundation of original ideas and plots, I understand Hollywood’s need to revisit properties with brand recognition. And if you are going to do another Monte Cristo, setting it in a completely different time frame at least gives it a shot of creative juice that could help it stand apart from its predecessors. So much of this film now relies on the casting, as well as who directs, so let’s reserve judgment for now, see what pieces fall into place, and revisit the Monte Cristo revisiting in time.