EXCLUSIVE: Now that the SAG-AFTRA strike is ending, why not come out with elephant-sized ambition? Netflix has attached Denzel Washington to play the ancient Carthaginian general Hannibal in an untitled epic drama that will reteam him with Antoine Fuqua for Netflix. That reunites back star and director who first teamed on 2001’s Training Day — Washington won the Oscar for that turn — and they most recently made the third installment of the Equalizer franchise.
John Logan, the three-time Oscar-nominated The Aviator and Hugo scribe who knows his way around a sword-and-scandal saga with Gladiator, is writing the script. Fuqua, Washington, Erik Olsen and Adam Goldworm will produce. Jeremy Lott and Frank Rodriguez Moll exec produce.
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For Washington, the development brings back a project that he wanted to star in more than 20 years ago, but Fox wanted to make it at a time when Washington didn’t want to be away from his kids for an extended period. They now are making their own paths in Hollywood, so it seems a better time to get so ambitious.
Atop an elephant, Hannibal came over the Alps and attacked Rome from the North, at the time posing the greatest threat to the republic. Hannibal was a skilled military tactician who led the troops in what is now Tunisia, not far from Sicily. His military victories during the Second Punic War are legend, and the story of Hannibal is something Hollywood has been intrigued by for decades — Vin Diesel was attached to a rival pic — and few stars have the bankability to make the costly project worthwhile.
This version of the film will follow the pivotal battles Hannibal led against the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.). The film falls under Fuqua’s production company, Hill District Media’s, first-look deal with Netflix.
Washington is set to return to production on another major period tentpole with Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2, set to restart production shortly and dated for Thanksgiving 2024.
Washington is repped by WME and Fuqua is repped by LBI Entertainment and WME. Lott & Moll are both repped by Aperture Entertainment, and individually by Goodman Schenkman and Myman Greenspan and Olsen is repped by Tifanie Acosta at Entertainment Law Partners.
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