Though he's been dead for centuries, the ancient Greek poet Homer has had a profound impact on storytelling and cinema. His Iliad and Odyssey have inspired a long list of adaptations, from the Brad Pitt-fronted adventure Troy to the quirky comedies like the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Chris Elliot's Cabin Boy. But Homer's next leap to the big screen could be his most spectacular yet.
Deadline reports Warner Bros. is adapting Homer's epic poem The Odyssey into a large-scale epic. The assumed scale of the project is confirmed by the selection of their helmer, Fedor Bondarchuk, a Russian director known for big, bold and profitable movies.
The Odyssey serves as a sort-of sequel to The Iliad, and traditionally centers on the Odysseus, a great warrior who is struggling to find his way home after the Trojan War ends. His homecoming quest throws him in the path of a wrathful Cyclops, deadly sirens, and a vicious witch-goddess. Trusted with the hefty task of adapting this dense poem is Jeremy Donner, best known as a writer and producer on the murder-investigation drama The Killing.
As for Fedor Bondarchuk, his is a name not well known Stateside, but he's been building an enviable rep all the same. An actor turned director, Bondarchuk helmed his first feature, 9th Company, in 2005. While that title didn't make waves Stateside, it was the Russia's most profitable film that year, and really connected with young audiences, winning four MTV Movie Awards there. Next came the grand dystopian sci-fi thrillers The Inhabited Island, a film so big in its running time that it was split into two parts for its theatrical release. But most recently, Bondarchuk took on World War II with Stalingrad, the first Russian film to ever be completely produced with IMAX 3D technology.
Get a sense of the scale of Stalingrad through its trailer:
As you can read in our review, Stalingrad was a hugely ambitious war movie, with a large cast, meticulously detailed sets, pulse-pounding battle scenes, and an enthusiastic use of 3D. Having seen--and having been amazed by--that film, it's little wonder to me that Warner Bros has selected Fedor Bondarchuk to be their Odyssey director.
Adding to his allure, Bondarchuk made Stalingrad for just $30 million, and that's with a reliance on practical effects and settings, as opposed to loads of green screen shoots. Even better business for WB, Bondarchuk's movies have done very well in Russia and China, two markets that are becoming more and more important in the global box office arena. In short, WB is likely expecting a lot from Bondarchuk and his Odyssey.