Mike Fleming

Here’s an interesting one to ponder on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. Warner Bros is courting Steven Spielberg to direct Gods and Kings, an epic-sized film about life of Moses. There haven’t been formal meetings yet, but Spielberg has read the script by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. Getting Spielberg is a long shot on any film because his deal is complex, his dance card is always full, and Warner Bros would have to be willing to share the picture with DreamWorks. Still, I’ve heard there will be a discussion. Gods and Kings covers the life of Moses from birth to death. In between, there is his awakening to the plight of the Hebrew slaves that led Moses’ struggle against the Pharaoh for their freedom out of Egypt; the Ten Plagues; the Burning Bush; the daring escape across the Red Sea; receiving the Ten Commandments, and delivery to Israel. The film is not a remake of the 1956 Cecile B. DeMille-directed The Ten Commandments, which covered similar ground. Gods and Kings is based on the Book of Exodus and other stories from the Old Testament, and a treatment by Matti Leshem. The film is being produced by Dan Lin and Lesham. Hazeldine  scripted the Legendary Entertainment/Warner Bros epic Paradise Lost, and Green, who co-wrote Green Lantern, created the TV series The River for Spielberg as a midseason series on ABC. It’s the first time they’ve written together. I’m not sure if this will happen, but the idea of Spielberg taking on a biblical film with such global appeal seemed tantalizing enough to mention. It’s worth noting that The Ten Commandments was one of the most profitable films of its era, grossing $65 million in the 1950s, which is close to $1 billion if adjusted for inflation. Nobody involved would comment.

This marks the second high-profile film Warner Bros is developing on a seminal Jewish hero. Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas are collaborating on their pitch to tell the story of Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee, who teamed with his father and four brothers to lead the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies that had conquered Judea in the 2nd century B.C. Gibson has the first option to direct, and he will produce the film through his Icon Productions banner.