Ever since the Pirates of Caribbean movies burst onto the scene and brought in enormous sums of money, Disney has been trying to replicate their success. The biggest profile effort was 2013’s The Lone Ranger, which reunited Pirates star Johnny Depp with director Gore Verbinski, who helmed the first three Pirates movies.
Now Disney is trying once again to launch a major new franchise. And for inspiration, they’ve gone all the way back to the 17th century. The Hollywood Reporter says that Disney is planning a new action-adventure film based on the classic novel, Don Quixote.
The Man of La Mancha
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (as it is fully known) is a Spanish novel originally published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615. Writer Miguel de Cervantes wrote the satirical novel.
The plot involves a Spanish aristocrat (or hidalgo) who is swept up in reading numerous chivalrous romance novels. Alonso Quixano eventually goes insane and decides that he is a knight. He adopts the name Don Quixote of La Mancha. Along with his portly squire Sancho Panza (actually a lowly farmer), he sets out to perform chivalrous deeds. To Don Quixote, innkeepers become lords, windmills are actually dragons, and the peasant girls he encounters are ladies-in-waiting.
From The Hunger Games to Medieval Spain
The Hunger Games screenwriter Billy Ray is writing the new adaptation. Ray was nominated for an Academy Award for his script for Captain Phillips. Gordan Gray is producing the new Don Quixote along with Ray. Disney has partnered with Gray in the past on a number of inspirational sports dramas, like The Rookie, Invincible, McFarland USA, and Million Dollar Arm.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the plan is for the film to feature the same style of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. In other words, expect a lot of over-the-top action married with plenty of comedy, as well.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Ironically, Pirates star Johnny Depp almost starred in a Don Quixote film himself. Director Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) has been trying to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote for 16 years now.
It’s a loose adaptation of the original novel, with a time-travel element thrown in. Depp was cast as Toby Grisoni, a 21-century marketing executive who is thrown back in time. He becomes the sidekick of Don Quixote.
Filming began in 2000, but production was soon shut down due to a number of problems. The set was flooded and producers were unable to secure insurance. French actor Jean Rochefort, who had been cast as Quixote, had to exit the film due to illness.
In 2008, Gilliam started pre-production on the film again. This time Quixote would be played by Robert Duvall, with Ewan McGregor taking over for Johnny Depp. Unfortunately, the film’s funding fell through only a month later.
In 2016, plans were announced to finally make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Michael Palin would play Quixote with Star Wars‘ Adam Driver in the Johnny Depp role. Just as filming was to begin this month, though, the financing fell through once again. Gilliam isn’t giving up, however, saying, “I will be dead before the film is.”
There’s no word on when Disney’s big budget Don Quixote will hit theaters. Given the length of time these type of productions require, we likely won’t see it earlier than 2018 or 2019.