The Monster of Longwood
No Release Date at this Time
Just days after the announcement that Scarlett Johansson is working on a Napoleon Bonaparte project for Lions Gate comes news that the concept was already long in the works. The Monster of Longwood, a movie that is set to film on the Isle of Man and Fiji, is based on the yet-to-be-published novel Betsy and the Emperor by Staton Rabin. If that sounds familiar, it's because the Johansson film is titled Napoleon and Betsy. Confused yet?
To try to make sense of the situation, here's an outline of the events that have occurred so far:
According to Variety, "Longwood" producer Howard Rosenman says Rebecca B. Kennedy wrote the first draft of his film. Al Pacino accepted the Napoleon role, and Johansson did a reading with him. Additionally, Melanie Johansson, mother/manager of Scarlett, was set to be an associate producer on "Longwood," which was originally titled Betsy and the Emperor.
Since that time, Lions Gate has announced a project called Napoleon and Betsy, with Johansson attached to star and Kennedy assigned to write the script. Both Napoleon and Betsy and The Monster of Longwood will center around Bonaparte's final days and his friendship with a young British girl who befriends him during his exile to St. Helena.
Rosenman has retained legal representation to halt the Lions Gate project, and looks to be rushing his own film into production. The Michael Tolkin-penned script is in the process of being polished by Paul Auster and director Patrice Chereau.
While this certainly isn't the first time that two competing projects have had such similar premises (see: First Daughter/Chasing Liberty and Real Cancun/The Quest), this situation certainly promises to be the most contentious. It should be fascinating to see how it all shakes out. (Kim Hollis/BOP)