‘Napoleon’ Sneak Peek Makes It Clear Why Ridley Scott’s Epic Needs to Be Seen on the Big Screen

The historical drama stars Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor

Napoleon_First look
Apple Original Films

Ridley Scott knows epic.

The director of historical heavyweights like “Gladiator,” “1492: Conquest of Paradise,” “Kingdom of Heaven” and most recently the brilliant “The Last Duel” is back with a new sprawling historical epic in “Napoleon,” starring Joaquin Phoenix as the French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte and Vanessa Kirby as Empress Joséphine.

Produced by Apple Films and originally intended to debut on Apple TV+, instead the streaming giant has partnered with Sony Pictures for a theatrical release this Thanksgiving. Tom Rothman promised that the film would receive a full-fledged theatrical release with a genuine theatrical window, including a full-throated theatrical marketing campaign, before arriving on Apple TV+. He also asked theaters to vigorously support the film as a theatrical success could lead to more cooperation between theaters and streamers.

And Monday night at CinemaCon the world got its first look. It looked, appropriately, huge.

The single sequence was, as expected, a huge battle scene of Napoleon attacking the enemy camp. The enemy retreats across the ice, but our title character open fire with cannons to send his foes to a icy or watery grave.

“Napoleon” marks the first collaboration between Scott and Phoenix since “Gladiator” back in 2000. The script was written by David Scarpa, who wrote “All the Money in the World” for Scott and worked on “The Man in the High Castle,” produced by Scott and his Scott Free production banner. Kirby replaced “The Last Duel” star Jodie Comer shortly before filming began (Comer had to bow out due to a scheduling conflict). Tahar Rahim, Ben Miles, Ludivine Sagnier and Matthew Neeham also star.

“Napoleon” hits theaters on Nov. 22. It will be released on Apple TV+ later (our guess is Christmas).