As far as adaptations of classic literature goes, John Ford's adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is unquestionably one of the greatest. The film not only won two Academy Awards when it was first released, winning both Best Director and Best Supporting Actress, but has gone down in history as one of the best films ever made, ranking number 21 of AFI's notable 100 Years... 100 Movies list. It's hard to imagine any filmmaker being able to use the same source material to create something even close to the same level, but that's not stopping Steven Spielberg from trying.
Deadline has learned that Spielberg and Dreamworks are now negotiating with the Steinbeck estate to get the rights to make a new adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath. According to the story, the property has become a hot one recently in Hollywood, but Spielberg was able to "[swoop] in to take it off the table over other bidders." Robert Redford was reportedly interested in working with Dark Shadows producer David Kennedy to adapt the novel as a miniseries for the FX network, but apparently the Lincoln director was able to convince the owners of the rights that the proper approach would be to make a new feature. There was some early talk about Spielberg directing the new version himself, but sources at the studio say that he will only be taking a producorial part in the project.
While you may hope that this is a film that winds up languishing in development hell, there's one word that could prevent that from happening: anniversary. Steinbeck's book will be turning 75 years old in 2014, and Dreamworks is hoping that they can capitalize on that fact (similar to how Disney and Warner Bros. got Sam Raimi's Oz The Great and Powerful and Zack Snyder's Man of Steel ready just in time for The Wizard of Oz's and Superman's 75th birthdays). This also could very well be why Spielberg won't be available to direct the movie himself, seeing as he has already committed himself to working with Bradley Cooper on the adaptation of the book American Sniper.
Set during the Great Depression, the classic story centers on the Joads, a family of poor tenant farmers who are forced to leave Oklahoma due to the dust bowl conditions. Told of a promised land on the coast, the family, led by Tom Joad (played by Henry Fonda in Ford's film), decides to make their way out to California... but what they discover both on the road and at their final destination is far from what they hoped to find.
Watch the trailer for the original movie below and then head to the comments to tell us whether or not you think a remake of The Grapes of Wrath is a good idea.
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