Posted on Friday, February 11th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Since he began his association with Batman, Christopher Nolan has been good about spacing out chapters of Batfilm with movies that aren’t cut from quite the same cloth. There was The Prestige after Batman Begins, and Inception after The Dark Knight. And now, after after The Dark Knight Rises, the director may make his most grounded film yet: a Howard Hughes biopic.
Wait, what? Didn’t Martin Scorsese kind of beat him to the punch with The Aviator? Well, yes. And Vulture reminds us that he wrote the film after Memento and shelved it precisely because of The Aviator.
And while that film was about the first half of Hughes life in the spotlight, the Christopher Nolan version is based on Michael Drosnin’s book Citizen Hughes: The Power, the Money and the Madness, and looks into his far, far weirder later days, when the billionaire became a recluse at the Beverly Hills Hotel, prey to his germophobia, racism and mental illness. He battled the IRS, subsisted on candy, Baskin Robins ice cream and drugs and eventually surrounded himself only with Mormons, and bought up businesses and land in Las Vegas before. (And yes, I understand the irony of saying that a film about one of the more eccentric personalities of the 20th century would be Mr. Nolan’s most grounded yet.)
The Michael Drosnin book is based in large part on Hughes own notes, which came into the public eye after his home was burglarized in 1975, so that makes it interesting fodder for a film. One would imagine the screenplay would be quite the challenge, however, as in his later years Hughes never left his home. It could almost be a one-man show, with the character issuing orders to offscreen flunkies and engaging in monologues. That’s not what I expect to see, but the solitary nature of Hughes’ later years mean this would be a unique film. Think The Aviator crossed with 127 Hours. Reportedly the idea is to shoot this in late 2012 and release in 2014, putting ten years between this movie and The Aviator. It’s a film I’d want to see, and pending good reception for The Dark Knight Rises one Warner Bros. might even fund. But there’s quite a bit of time between now and then, so let’s see what happens.