Napoleon is perhaps the most famous of Stanley Kubrick's unfilmed movies... after A.I. So it's fitting that the guy who got A.I. made could do the same for Napoleon; Steven Spielberg tells French network Canal+ that he's developing Kubrick's dream film into a TV miniseries.
"I've been developing Stanley Kubrick's screenplay -- for a miniseries not for a motion picture -- about the life of Napoleon. Kubrick wrote the script in 1961, a long time ago," the director said.
Napoleon was one of Kubrick's great passions. Always a meticulous researcher, he accumulated boxes upon boxes of material in preparation - everything from information about Napoleon to reference photos and location imagery. The size and cost of the project scared off studios, and much of Kubrick's historical research was put to use on Barry Lyndon, but he never stopped dreaming of making the film. He had read 500 books on the French military genius/villain and envisioned making the greatest movie ever.
God knows there's enough material to consult when making a film of Kubrick's Napoleon. There's a whole book of it, and that's just scratching the surface. The cost factors that hamstrung the film - including the need for tens of thousands of extras - aren't the same in the digital age. And HBO and Showtime would likely go into a bidding war in an effort to get this project secured.
Cue those who will whine about Spielberg taking on another Kubrick project, especially those who hate A.I. and don't realize that Spielberg was Kubrick's choice for the film while he was still alive. These are often the same people who think the end of A.I. is happy.
To be fair, I'm not crazy about this. What would have made Kubrick's Napoleon would have been Kubrick. Even using his script and research, this will probably be just another Napoleon movie (although honestly we haven't gotten too many of those). Doing a Napoleon miniseries is a great idea, but saddling it with the weight of Kubrick's legacy seems like a mistake.