Spielberg Circling Dalton Trumbo’s 50-Year Old MONTEZUMA Screenplay


Although he has flirted with a couple of projects, Steven Spielberg has not yet announced what his followup film will be to last year’s Academy Award winner Lincoln. Both the science-fiction epic Robopocalypse and the thriller American Sniper have been mentioned, but nothing has officially come of either project. Deadline, however, is bring word of another potential project from a rather unusual source.

Spielberg is reportedly considering the nearly 50-year-old screenplay Montezuma from noted Black Listed writer Dalton Trumbo as his next project. Deadline is reporting that Spielberg’s Schindler’s List screenwriter Steve Zaillian is already at work rewriting the famously unproduced script for the director and that Javier Bardem has expressed interest in playing the lead role of the Spanish conquistador/explorer Cortez, who lead the invasion of the New World that lead to the clash between the Spanish and the native Aztec Indians and their leader Montezuma. It is possible that the film will get renamed Cortez, signifying a change in the film’s point-of-view.

Trumbo initially wrote his initial 205-page draft of the film in 1965 for actor/producer Kirk Douglas. The pair had previously teamed together for the epic Spartacus, and Douglas’s public acknowledgement of Trumbo’s work on the film in the form of an on-screen credit was one of the first major blows against the Black List that had sprung up following the Cold War paranoia of the McCarthy era. Martin Ritt was initially tagged to direct the film with Douglas starring, though it never came about.

The only hitch to this possibly coming together is the fact that Zaillian currently has a first-look deal with Twentieth Century Fox, though it is Spielberg’s Dreamworks that controls the rights to the property.

Cortez landed in Mexico in 1519, bringing with him waves of conquistadors fueled by tales of riches in the New World. Although he had expanded the Aztec Empire to its biggest size, Montezuma and his people were no match for the European invaders, and Montezuma himself was killed in the first wave of warfare between the two parties. Cortez would later father a child with Montezuma’s daughter. Lots of material here for both epic and personal stories to be told.

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About Rich Drees 7180 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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