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Sam Mendes Going On Chesil Beach

Carey Mulligan may star

With his license to direct Bond 23 now on hold thanks to MGM’s financial woes, Sam Mendes has been scouting around for something to keep him busy. Most recently, his name has been floated for Wizard Of Oz prequel The Great And Powerful Oz, which has Robert Downey circling the wizard role. But now it looks like a one-two punch of very different projects has knocked him out of the running for that job: a Charlie And The Chocolate Factory musical and an adaptation of On Chesil Beach.

Let’s hit the Beach first shall we? Ian McEwan’s novel chronicles the issues of a newly married couple in the 1960s as they figure out their fears, fumbles and fights when it comes to consummation. McEwan is adapting the book for the screen and Carey Mulligan is apparently already in talks with Mendes about the plum female lead role.

And then there’s Charlie, which doesn’t feature much about virginal panic (unless there's a subtext Roald Dahl didn't tell anyone about), but is much more focused on spoilt children and an amazing sweet factory. Warner Bros. theatrical department has apparently being trying to get Dahl’s book on to the stage as a musical for years, and according to Deadline, went so far as to greenlight the 2005 Tim Burton movie in order to get Dahl’s family to agree to the show.

Apparently, a recent reading of the first act went over well enough that Mendes has firmly committed to it, aiming to launch the show in London around Christmas 2011 (that's an addition to his already busy theatre schedule, with the annual Bridge project in London and New York on again this summer). Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are penning tunes and the producers are looking for a designer to begin constructing huge sets.

As the musical slowly comes together, the director is planning to fit in Chesil Beach for Focus Features, likely before the end of the year. And should Bond struggle back into service, Mendes is apparently still willing to make the latest outing – but no one knows when that will happen yet.

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