In the early 2010s, an enticing project came up at Sony – a David Fincher film about Cleopatra starring Angelina Jolie. While a previous film about the mythical character starring Elizabeth Taylor had been a notorious train wreck, the thought of putting an experienced auteur like Fincher in the driver’s seat seemed like a good way to prevent more headaches behind the scenes. Plus, it was a project that would bring Fincher into new territory since he had never before made an epic sword-and-sandal image. The possibilities for such a distinctive filmmaker embracing this genre were limitless.
For its part, Fincher was attracted to the project for reasons that went beyond visual effects. “We’ve seen scope; everyone knows we can fake it,” Fincher said (via IndieWire) in December 2011. “These things do not impress in the way they did even 10 years ago. We expect that from cable. So that’s not the reason to do it.” Instead, Fincher was more interested in a particular question: “What is it about this character that has bought this place into our history and imagination that can be related today?”
However, it would not be long before Fincher dropped out of productionwithout any concrete justification for why the filmmaker suddenly lost interest in the effort. At the time of Fincher’s departure, Sony was looking for a new person to lead Jolie in this “Cleopatra” project with names like Ang Lee, James Cameron and Denis Villenueve floating around as a potential candidate to take over. However, it looks like Paramount will hit Sony with a Cleopatra flick off Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot.