Since his first film in 1996, Julian Schnabel has directed only four movies. That’s roughly an average of one movie every four years. His latest film, Miral, was released in 2010 and in an interview with The Playlist, he just said he would eventually make In the Hand Of Dante with Johnny Depp. However, while Depp owns the rights to the book, there’s no script yet – plus Depp himself has a film or two lined up – so that four year average seems like it’ll time out just right. Read Schnabel’s quote and the story behind the book, which sounds like a period blend of Adaptation and The Da Vinci Code, after the jump.

Here’s what Schnabel — the director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiattold The Playlist about this project:

There’s a great book called ‘In the Hand of Dante’ by Nick Tosches. It belongs to Johnny, but I’m not going to make it for a couple of years. We’re gonna work on writing it, developing it. We didn’t sign anything. It’s just something Johnny asked me to read and I think it’s a great book so maybe you should read it. It’s pretty beautiful. It’s about everything.

Depp bought the book in 2008 and had developed a friendship with Schnabel years before when he appeared in Before Night Falls. Since then, nothing has really happened with the project. Depp, however, has continued to become a bigger and bigger box office star so a grounded film like this, potentially after a fifth (or sixth) Pirates movie, Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger and more, would be a nice change of pace.

Here’s how Library Journal (via Amazon) describes the dual-story book:

Dante’s original manuscript for The Divine Comedy is the catalyst for Tosches’s schizophrenic yet at times brilliant novel, synthesizing history and biography with contemporary murder and mayhem to create an exotic meal of a book, albeit one for strong stomachs. The book alternates between two different worlds: 14th-century Italy, where Dante Alighieri searches for the perfect inspiration to complete his masterwork, and 21st-century New York, where murderous thugs seek to profit from the recently unearthed manuscript, thought to be lost to the ages. Enter Tosches, a student of Dante’s work and a go-between for the mob; his quest to authenticate the book takes a turn that his conspirators can’t predict, and he has plans of his own for the tome. What makes the novel special is Tosches himself, who examines his own life, weary philosophy, and creative inspiration in his usual in-your-face style. In one fascinating aside, the author rants about monopolistic publishing houses, effectively biting the hand that feeds him. As with any Tosches book, a reader’s willingness to embrace the dark side and all that it entails is essential. However, behind the grunge lies a fascinating study of the power of writing and the relative value applied to it. The fact that the cynical Tosches doesn’t provide easy answers only adds more provocation. Highly recommended.

That really sounds like something Depp and Schnabel would kill together. When do you think the pair would get to this and do you ever think it would happen?

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