'Cloud Atlas' Budget Reduced; Wachowskis And Tom Tykwer Will Head Parallel Filmmaking Units

Questions about Cloud Atlas, the very ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell's novel that was written and will be directed by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski, are slowly being answered. We know the cast (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and possibly Bae Doona) and we know that many, if not all of those actors will play multiple roles in the six interconnected stories that make up the novel's unconventional narrative.

But we've wondered how Tykwer and the Wachowskis will manage to direct the film together, and now here's info: they'll work with two full filmmaking teams in parallel. Tykwer will head one team and the Wachowskis the other when cameras start to roll in Germany next month.

THR reports that, in addition to that fact, the $100-120m budget that has been reported in the past few months will be "definitely lower." That's per Stefan Arndt, the head of X Filme, the company producing the film in Berlin. He also said,

Many have called the novel unfilmable, but Tom [Tykwer] and the Wachowskis have found a way to tell these stories in an amazing, linear and very cinematic way.

THR speculates that Tykwer will handle the period-set chapters of Cloud Atlas while the Wachowskis will take care of the sci-fi settings. Trouble is, there is only one explicitly 'sci-fi' story: the fifth, 'An Orison of Sonmi~451.' The sixth story has sci-fi elements, but I wouldn't call it full-blown sci-fi by any means. That's probably nitpicking, though. And who's to say that the teams will tackle equal amounts of the film? Sonmi~451's story could be an entire film undertaking on its own.

(If it were me assigning segments, the obvious way to go would be to give Tykwer the first, second and sixth stories, with the Wachowskis taking the balance. But I also wouldn't mind seeing Tykwer handle some of the more explicitly sci-fi moments, just for the sake of the change-up.)

Even with the lower budget — hell, because of it — this remains one of the most ambitious films in production this year. I'm not yet sure that I anticipate good things, as the novel does indeed seem to defy easy adaptation, but I can't wait to see how it comes together. Warner Bros. will release the film in the US.