Cary Fukunaga and Steven Spielberg to Complete Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon for HBO


When Stanley Kubrick died in 1999, he left behind quite a few projects that he had developed but never got the chance to see through to completion. One of those projects was A.I., which ended up being directed by Steven Spielberg and was released a couple of years later. But one of the other major projects that Kubrick left unfinished was an epic biopic about the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, which has since been labelled “the greatest movie never made.” A few years back, Steven Spielberg hinted that he intended to develop this project for TV, but then we didn’t hear anything about it until just a few days ago, when a report surfaced through Kubrick’s long-time producer Jan Harlan that it was going to happen at HBO. Now it appears that the project is indeed moving forward and it will be directed by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation). Hit the jump for more details.

According to THR, Cary Fukunaga is currently in talks to direct a 6-hour mini-series based on Stanley Kubrick’s unfinished Napoleon project for HBO. David Leland (The Borgias) will write the script, which will draw from Kubrick’s own work-in-progress screenplay. The show will be a co-production between HBO and MGM with Steven Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey executive producing the project through Amblin Television.

Back in the ’60s, Kubrick had conducted extensive research on the subject, scouted locations and had even made arrangements to use the Romanian army for large scale battle sequences, but the project was ultimately shelved due to the prohibitive costs and the failure of Sergei Bondarchuk’s own Napoleon-themed film Waterloo. Much of his research material has been preserved in an archive by his estate and has now been made available to the new production team. Clearly this is huge news for fans of Stanley Kubrick, and although it is amazing that it will actually get made, it does seem like a bit of a shame that the final product won’t actually make it to the big screen. Are you looking forward to HBO’s Napoleon mini-series and do you think Cary Fukunaga can do it justice?

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  • Essie

    This is incredibly exciting news.

  • Shit yeah, and what a dream team too. Scary thing is, it feels like it can only go down from here D:

  • Mark

    Wait – so – if they’re not using Kubrick’s script – and Kubrick isn’t directing it – and someone else is writing it (“drawing” from Kubrick’s script only)…then how exactly is this “Kubrick’s” project being made? It’s simply a Napoleon film on HBO. They should simply shoot his script, it’s brilliant.

  • Stanley Puberick

    The quality of this is totally up in the air. Fukanaga has a unique visual style that could lend itself beautifully to a Kubrick project. I’d like to see a brighter visual style, like Jane Eyre, rather than the dark and gloomy True Detective one. Spielberg really changed the tone of AI after he took over for Kubrick, to the best of my knowledge (ie the character of Gigolo Joe). However, if he brings at least a tenth of what he put into the Saving Private Ryan combat scenes, we’re looking at a fantastic movie.
    I had the privilege of seeing Kubrick’s LACMA exhibit and I got to see all of his prep work for Napoleon and it looked amazing. Unfortunately, there’s no way of getting either Fukanaga, Speilberg, or HBO to take Kubrick’s fully realized script and production notes and putting them to screen.