Paul WS Anderson Off To Pompeii

A volcanic disaster thriller

Paul WS Anderson is looking to make a film called Pompeii, that even if it works, will be described as a great, big disaster. Does the man just live to fuel his critics? Anyway, he’s locked in his next project, a period adventure film that will spin an original story wrapped around the destruction of the ancient Roman city by Mt Vesuvius.

Taking the model of Titanic, Pompeii will find a shipping tycoon’s slave who is consumed with buying his freedom and marrying the woman he loves – who just happens to be his master’s daughter. Trouble is (and don’t say you didn’t see this one coming), she’s promised to a corrupt Roman senator (paging Billy Zane! Billy Zane to the ham aisle please!)

To make matters worse, our hero has been sold to another owner and is now en route to Naples when he hears that the volcano is blowing its top and threatening the city that contains not only his ladylove, but his best mate, a gladiator trapped in the coliseum. Instead of cutting his losses and getting on with his life, he starts working out how to get back and rescue them.

The tragedy of Pompeii has been a rich source of both films and TV drama for years now and Roman Polanski was aiming to get a movie about the disaster going a couple of years ago, but that got derailed by the looming threat of strike action by writers and actors. It has since been picked up by Ridley Scott as a possible TV miniseries, but that one is still only at the screenplay stage.

Lee Batchler and Janet Scott Batchler have pumped out the script for this one, which will be up for sale at the Cannes Film Market, and Summit has already nabbed the US rights. Assuming everything falls into place, Anderson aims to kick off shooting next year. So start trying to figure out what his wife/good luck charm Mila Jovovich will be playing now.

Before that can happen, though, he still has to finish off his first big stab at period action-adventure with The Three Musketeers.