El Cid - The Remake?

Antonio Banderas as the Cid?
In June 2002 it was announced that MGM Producer Arthur Sarkissian (Rush Hour) was pursuing a remake of Samuel Bronston's film El Cid. Sarkissian hoped to shoot the project in Spain for a 2004 release. The film's rights holder, Jean Paul Devidas, was expected to be a co-producer. Sarkissian saw the Cid, who led a combined Christian and Muslim force against the fundamentalist Almoravides led by Yusef, as a model for confronting the modern Islamist threat headed by Osama bin Laden. Sarkissian hoped his new version of the film would be superior to the original, just as Gladiator, which sparked the epic revival of the time, was a superior remake of Bronston’s Fall of the Roman Empire. He had Spanish actor Antonio Banderas at the top of his list of prospective actors to play the Cid.

By November 2003 it was reported that Martin Campbell (Beyond Borders, GoldenEye) had been selected to direct the film. At that time Sarkissian had renewed his production deal at MGM and El Cid was only one of several projects in development.

In February 2004 it was announced that novelist-screenwriter Scott B Smith (A Simple Plan) had been contracted for a first-draft screenplay. After that all mention of the project in the trade press ended. It may be surmised that the general inability of a string of big-budget epics to duplicate Gladiator‘s success had dampened MGM's enthusiasm. Notably the Crusaders-vs-Muslim film Kingdom of Heaven, had cost $130 million to make and garnered only $47 million in US box-office. Together with the complex and deteriorating relationship between America and the Muslim world after the invasion of Iraq, this undoubtedly made the project unattractive to potential backers.

Texts via the Gutenberg Project
Commentary © Mark Wade, 2006.
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