Steven Spielberg to turn Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon into a TV mini-series

The Lincoln director is working with Kubrick's estate to adapt the unmade Bonaparte biopic for the small screen

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Hot on the heels of Oscars success for biopic Lincoln, Steven Spielberg is working on bringing the late Stanley Kubrick’s unrealised drama about Napoleon Bonaparte to life on the small screen.

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“I’ve been developing Stanley Kubrick’s screenplay  for a miniseries not for a motion picture  about the life of Napoleon,” the director told French TV channel Canal+. “Kubrick wrote the script in 1961, a long time ago.”

Kubrick attempted to make his ambitious film about Napoleon after wrapping 2001: A Space Odyssey in the late 1960s, and based his screenplay on years of extensive research.

In 1971, he famously wrote to studio executives about the film, saying: “It’s impossible to tell you what I’m going to do except to say that I expect to make the best movie ever made.”

But MGM and United Artists both declined to back the project at the time, on the grounds that it would have been too expensive to produce, and Kubrick was never able to realise his dream during his lifetime. 

In fact, the most tangible result of Kubrick’s Napoleonic endeavours to date has been an enormous book containing the bulk of the director’s research, entitled Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: the Greatest Movie Never Made, which was published in 2009.

Spielberg, who has overseen such small-screen successes as Band of Brothers and Falling Skies, collaborated with Kubrick on 2001’s AI, a film the late director began working on in the 1970s before handing the reins over to Spielberg in the early 1990s.

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Spielberg was recently announced as the president of the jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The 66-year-old will take over from 2012’s president Nanni Moretti in May.