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Like many directors, Michael Mann mulls over many projects before settling on the one that will be his “next” film at any given time. In this case his next picture is a currently untitled “cyber-crime” thriller, which leaves quite a few other possible films in the lurch.

One of those other potential efforts was Gold, a film that follows a 1993 mining scandal, featuring a prospector who found “one of the largest gold mines in the world in the Indonesian jungle.” It has been likened to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but in what respects beyond the simple prospector angle, we don’t know for certain.

Mann may have moved on, but Gold still lives. Spike Lee is now attached to direct the film, based on the script by Patrick Massett and John Zinman.

The Wrap reports that the film might be Lee’s next, after the completion and release of Oldboy. But there’s the question of scheduling for whatever actor is cast as the main character. Paul Haggis, who once considered directing and originally brought the project to Mann, is still producing.

As far as the story goes, the background for Gold is interesting. It’s a story that almost has more to do with what happened on the stock market than what took place in Indonesia.

The short form is that, in 1988 Bre-X Minerals was formed in Canada. In ’92 it began exploring in Busan, Indonesia, and geologist Michael de Guzman was hired to oversee efforts there. In late ’95 Bre-X started to announce that Busan may have at least 10m ounces of gold, and possibly as much as 30m. By early ’97 the company is saying there might be up to 200m ounces in the reserve. With gold prices hitting $300-400 USD per ounce at the time, that was a lot of money. The Bre-X stock price rocketed from about $14 CDN to over $200 CDN, after which it split 10-for-1. Short version, the company was valued at about $6 BILLION.

Then independent reports said there was actually no gold in Busan. Cue the crash. There was a mysterious death, and a massive investor fallout. You can almost hear the papers and shareholders screaming more than fifteen years later.

So the conflict is pretty obvious, but precisely how it will be presented as a film script is open to question. Will it take place mostly on the ground in Indonesia, or between there, the board room, and the stock market?

Oldboy opens on October 11, and we may know more about Gold before that.

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