So we know for certain now: after being relatively dormant since Speed Racer, the next film from the Wachowskis will be an adaptation of the David Mitchell novel Cloud Atlas. They’re co-writing and co-directing with Tom Tykwer, more or less as we’ve reported in the past, and Tom Hanks is officially attached to star. Warner Bros. will handle the film in the US and Focus Features International will have rights elsewhere. The idea is to pre-sell other rights at Cannes and then get down to the business of shooting the film in September. More details are after the break, if you haven’t been following along while the film was in the rumor stage.

Deadline offers up all this news, but doesn’t explain too much more about how things are actually going to work with the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer all sharing directing duties.

But Cloud Atlas is a project where that makes sense, to some extent. The novel is a set of six interconnected stories that have very different settings, subject matter and style. At first glance it almost looks more like an anthology than a unified novel. So three directors isn’t so strange, as the resulting film could almost be a sort of omnibus. We don’t know if all six stories are part of the movie, or if things have been condensed and changed somehow. But it isn’t like the Wachowskis to go half way, so I’d expect that as much of the book as possible is going to be present in the script, at least at first.

Deadline has this synopsis:

An epic story of humankind in which the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another throughout the past, present and future as one soul is shaped from a murderer into a savior and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution.

In addition to Tom Hanks, Halle Berry is likely to have a role; James McAvoy and Ian McKellen have reportedly been given offers to appear, too. Natalie Portman has talked about the script, too, and she was also reportedly offered a part.

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