Way back in 2007, Paul and Chris Weitz were talking up their desire to film Michael Moorcock's epic saga of Elric of ï»¿Melniboné. Then Chris' adaptation of The Golden Compass was released, and nothing was ever heard of the idea again. But if you ever wondered what happened, Coming Soon has just scored the answer.
The Weitzes had the rights and the approval of Moorcock, but says Paul, "We wrote a very edgy script that was true to the anarchic spirit of the books, but then we had a heck of a time getting it made. Elric is an utter anti-hero, and I believe that aspect was a response to Tolkien, because Moorcock looked at Lord Of The Rings as a sort of hymn to squireocracy and the class system in England. Elric is a complete rock-and-roll nihilist anti-hero."
If the name has passed you by thus far, Elric of Melniboné, aka Elric Kinslayer, aka The White Wolf, first appeared in print in 1961, and is the star of more than a dozen books by Moorcock, not to mention countless subsequent comics and a Hawkwind album. He's a sickly albino rather than a Conan type, and he draws his power from his evil sword Stormbringer, which he struggles to keep from swallowing his soul.
The brothers' Depth Of Field production company was developing the project, and Chris was hoping that Paul (American Pie, About A Boy, The Vampire's Assistant, Little Fokkers) would direct when he spoke to us five years ago.
"It was certainly a dream come true to hang out with Michael Moorcock, who is one of our heroes," Paul says now. "We'll probably take another run at it if we're able to."
It's a hellishly complex and potetntially expensive property to bang into screenplay shape, and the crash-and-burn of last year's Conan The Barbarian probably means that high fantasy aimed at the R-rated market is probably off the Hollywood menu for the time being. But ironically for Elric, there's always The Hobbit to revive everyone's enthusiasm.
In the meantime, Paul Weitz's Being Flynn (based on Nick Flynn's scurrilous memoir Another Bullshit Night In Suck City) is out in the US on March 3. We don't have a release date in the UK yet.