Feeling bad for Catherine Hardwicke since she got passed over to direct “The Twilight Saga: New Moon”? Don’t. It’s amazing what $380 million in worldwide grosses will do for your career. Just today, Overture Films announced that Hardwicke is re-teaming with her “Lords of Dogtown” star Emile Hirsch on a modern remake of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
The studio says the story of a young man man burdened with the choice of taking revenge on his father’s killer, his uncle, will take place in a contemporary American setting.
This would be the fourth big screen version of “Hamlet” to be staged in the past 20 years and the second to be told in modern times. In 2000, Ethan Hawke played the troubled son in New York City. In 1996, Kenneth Branagh directed and starred in a critically acclaimed four hour version that included an intermission at most theaters and received four Oscar nominations. Lastly, Mel Gibson played the iconic role in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 version.
This version will be produced by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, the producers of “Milk” and “American Beauty.” In statement released by Overture, the duo says, “This project was the brainchild of Emile Hirsch, who we had the pleasure of working with on ‘Milk”. Hamlet was in college when the story takes place, yet there hasn’t been a movie version with an appropriately-aged actor playing the role. Our goal is to present the story as a suspense thriller. We want to make it exciting and accessible for an audience today.”
Hardwicke added, “I had a great time working with Emile on ‘Lords of Dogtown”, so when he suggested ‘Hamlet”, I was intrigued. We read the play aloud and when I heard Emile speaking Shakespeare’s amazing words, I was flooded with images. We edited the play tightly, making the words extremely accessible. In our version, we’re working hard to make ‘Hamlet” a thrilling cinematic experience — the violent, intense, and romantic scenes that happen ‘off-stage” in the play will be shown in vivid detail.”
Hirsch appears later this summer in Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock” which received so-so reviews after its premiere at last month’s Cannes Film Festival.
A screenplay adaptation for this new “Hamlet” is currently in the works and Overture seems to be angling a shooting schedule sometime this year.