After making two “Wonder Woman” films together at Warner Bros., Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins will head to Paramount to make the historical epic “Cleopatra” after the studio won an intense bidding war for the actor/director duo’s upcoming project.
The acquisition is the first major one for Paramount since Emma Watts joined the studio as Motion Picture Group President. Watts, who left 20th Century Fox shortly after its acquisition by Disney, joined Paramount this past June. While Paramount has found dependable success with the “Mission: Impossible” series and solid profits from titles like “A Quiet Place” and “Sonic the Hedgehog,” the studio has been searching for more major blockbuster projects as the once-reliable “Transformers” franchise has faltered at the box office in recent years.
In addition to respectively acting and directing on the project, Gadot and Jenkins will both produce alongside Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven and Pilot Waves, Jason Varsano, who is Gadot’s producing partner. Laeta Kalogridis, whose credits include “Alexander,” “Shutter Island” and “Alita: Battle Angel,” will write the script and serve as executive producer.
Alongside her father, brothers and sons, Cleopatra ruled for 21 years and was the last major ruler of Egypt before it became a province of the Roman Empire. Despite technically sharing the title of regent with others in her family, she was known as dominant ruler of Egypt at the time and became known both in history and popular culture for her romantic and political relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Hollywood has tackled Cleopatra’s life several times in the past, but perhaps the most famous is the 1963 sword and sandals epic starring Elizabeth Taylor as the queen with Richard Burton as Mark Antony. The film provided plenty of fodder for the gossip columns as Taylor and Burton had an affair while portraying Cleopatra and Antony’s romance onscreen. Despite being the highest-grossing film that year and winning four Oscars from nine nominations, “Cleopatra” was initially a flop as numerous shooting scandals, including director and cast changes, led to the film becoming the most expensive production in Hollywood history at the time.
Jenkins and Gadot’s rise over the past three years has been far less scandalous. “Wonder Woman,” which grossed $812.5 million at the global box office in 2017, holds the record for the highest grossing film directed by a woman. The sequel, “Wonder Woman 1984,” was expected to be one of multiple blockbusters directed by women in 2020 to have an opportunity to crack the $1 billion box office mark; but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced it to be repeatedly delayed. “WW84” is now set for release on Christmas Day, though another delay to 2021 is still possible.
Gadot is repped by WME. Jenkins is repped by CAA.