Ageless Auteurs: Scorsese Eyes Frank Sinatra Biopic With Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, Spielberg Tackling UFO Movie and More (2024)

Mark Twain once quipped, “Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it, it doesn’t matter.”When it comes to Martin Scorsese, age certainly isn’t making a difference. After landing 10 Oscar nominations for last year’s historical crime epic “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the 81-year-old director has mapped out his next several projects. Sources say he plans to shoot two films back to back: the first about Jesus, the second a Frank Sinatra biopic.

The Oscar-winning director who helped usher in the Hollywood New Wave of the 1970s is looking to bypass the studio system and independently finance “Life of Jesus,” based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1973 book. He took the same approach with the 2016 drama “Silence” (which also was adapted from an Endō novel). In fact, Scorsese would like to reunite with “Silence” star Andrew Garfield for the Jesus project, though it’s unclear if the 40-year-old actor is being eyed for the titular role or to play one of the disciples. (Scholars believe Jesus died sometime between the ages of 33 and 38.) Miles Teller has also been eyed for the picture. Production is expected to begin later this year and shoot in Israel, Italy and Egypt. Filming in Israel could prove too great of a logistical challenge given that the country is at war with Hamas in Gaza. (A rep for Scorsese declined comment.)

The Sinatra project could also hit some snags: The legendary crooner’s daughter Tina Sinatra controls her father’s estate and hasn’t yet given her blessing to the film. But that hasn’t stopped Scorsese from putting together a killer cast that would see frequent collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio playing the singer and Jennifer Lawrence portraying his second wife, actress Ava Gardner, sources say. It was Gardner who broke up Sinatra’s marriage with Nancy Barbato, Tina’s mother. With two of the biggest movie stars on the planet as leads, the film is drawing interest from major studios and streamers. Apple, which financed the $215 million “Flower Moon,” would love to stay in business with Scorsese, but Sony is said to be the frontrunner to nab the project.

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Also on the immediate horizon is a Scorsese collaboration with Steven Spielberg on a “Cape Fear” TV series for Apple TV+. The two legends will serve as executive producers of the project, based on the 1991 and 1962 Universal movies. (Scorsese directed the 1991 noir thriller, which Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment produced.)

Scorsese isn’t the only director from the over-75 set who is doing some of his most ambitious work. The recently announced Cannes competition lineup features three of his compatriots: 85-year-old Francis Ford Coppola (with “Megalopolis”), 81-year-old David Cronenberg (“The Shrouds”) and 77-year-old Paul Schrader (“Oh, Canada”). Their productive later years are remarkable considering that Hollywood hasn’t always been kind to aging auteurs — Billy Wilder, for instance, spent his final two decades struggling to get one more movie produced.

“I’m sure most artists want to keep working, but sometimes you’re not fortunate enough, lucky enough, good enough to stay in the arena,” says Schrader, who wrote the screenplay for Scorsese’s seminal 1976 film “Taxi Driver.” “And if you don’t have that creative motivation, you’re just gonna get called out as an emblem of some- thing that used to be. But I had to keep working. I had some COVID health problems, and every time I thought that I might die, I would get a new idea.”

At 86, Ridley Scott is literally staying in the arena. Footage from his long-awaited return to the Colosseum for a “Gladiator” sequel emerged as one of the major winners at CinemaCon, where Paramount showed epic scenes to movie theater executives, dominating the headlines out of Las Vegas.

“We wanted to make sure you were the first to see this footage — and in order to give you the very first look, what we’re showing you today is unfinished, but a very exciting piece,” Paramount CEO Brian Robbins told the crowd at the April 11 presentation. Perhaps because Scott continues to work with top-notch below-the-line crew members, the swords-and-sandals saga, which stars Paul Mescal and Denzel Washington, looked more finished seven months ahead of its Nov. 22 release than some superhero tentpoles on opening night.

“Ridley Scott is the master of creating the kinds of movie spectacles that the cinematic experience was created for and is among the most tenacious and vibrant auteurs working today,” says Robbins, who will be working with Scott on his next movie, a Bee Gees biopic for Paramount.

For his part, Spielberg, 77, is also staying busy. He will likely make his next project a UFO film based on his own original idea. David Koepp is writing the screenplay, sources say.

But maybe no feat of career longevity is as impressive as that of Clint Eastwood. The 93-year-old director just wrapped postproduction on “Juror No. 2.” Insiders say Warner Bros. is thrilled by what it has seen of the Nicholas Hoult thriller about a murder trial juror who realizes he may be at fault for the victim’s death. If the film is ultimately embraced, that will offer a fitting plot twist considering several studios passed on the low-risk, low-budget film. Even at 93, Eastwood should never be counted out.

“Eastwood is the great-grandfather of the geriatric generation,” Schrader jokes. “But there’s a guy from Portugal, [Cannes alum] Manoel de Oliveira, who worked till he was 104. So Clint still has a ways to go to catch him.”

Ageless Auteurs: Scorsese Eyes Frank Sinatra Biopic With Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, Spielberg Tackling UFO Movie and More (2024)
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