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2013 seemed like a comparatively rough year for Steven Spielberg. First, he put the kibosh on the megahuge Robopocalypse, citing the desire not to rush a project that remains in mothballs. Later, he skipped off American Sniper because the biggest director in the world had "budgetary issues." When we have budgetary issues, it means we're not buying milk this week, but Spielberg clearly is a different breed. Regardless, 2013 frustrated him so that he ended up delivering a fire-and-brimstone lecture where he decried the industry's practices and predicted a coming implosion. Fortunately, 2014 shows that he may have turned over a new leaf.
Spielberg is currently sizing up Montezuma as his next potential project. This would be a re-teaming with Schindler's List scribe Steve Zallian, who would be re-writing a screenplay written almost 50 years ago by Dalton Trumbo. So that's what the unemployed director has been doing with his free time. The plot would follow the relationship between Montezuma, the Aztec King, and Hernan Cortes, the Spanish explorer who ended the Aztec empire, beginning the first wave of Spanish explorers into Mexican territory. Javier Bardem, who has had a killer run in the last couple of years working with Sam Mendes, Terrence Malick and Ridley Scott, has shown interest in the Cortes role and presumably would be a part of this package.
This is a relatively under-explored part of history, as many find it hard to understand the rationale of Montezuma's actions during this period. While Cortes led the movement into Mexican territory, Montezuma's death (stoned by his own people - spoiler!) was said to cause Cortes a great deal of anguish. In other words, it's a juicy role for Bardem, and complex material for the filmmaker who last brought us Lincoln. The project is currently at Dreamworks, though there's uncertainty as to who would distribute.
The project may also be retitled Cortez, as befitting the name of Cortes, often referred to as Hernando Cortez. Trumbo's original script was apparently a 205-page tome with Kirk Douglas attached to star and Martin Ritt directing. Trumbo's eventual black-listing made that possibility unlikely, leading the script to be switched out in favor of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which Kirk allowed to be produced by his son Michael Douglas. Unless Spielberg ghost-directs Jurassic World (fingers crossed?), this could very well be his next picture. Spielberg has been known to get on the horse and put out movies pretty quickly; it was a marathon from War Of The Worlds into Munich. Is it possible the filmmaker attempts to shoot this in 2014? Stay tuned.