'Mulan' Director Niki Caro To Helm Amblin's 'Beautiful Ruins'

Mulan director Niki Caro has found her next project. The filmmaker has signed on with Amblin Partners to direct Beautiful Ruins, a social satire of Hollywood based on the New York Times bestseller written by Jess Walter.

Niki Caro is heading from ancient China to 1960s Italy with her next project, Beautiful Ruins. Variety reports that the Mulan director has closed a deal with Amblin Partners to direct a Beautiful Ruins movie based on the bestselling novel by Jess Walter published in 2012. Caro will direct a script written by Mark Hammer and Chiara Atik, from an earlier draft by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.

Described as a social satire critiquing Hollywood, Beautiful Ruins is a decades-spanning novel that begins in 1962 Italy in a seaside village, and leaps forward five decades later in Hollywood. Here is the synopsis for the book, per Goodreads:

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Beautiful Ruins seems like a promising project for Caro, who has mostly directed prestige dramas like The Zookeeper's Wife and the acclaimed The Whale Rider, so a comedy that satirizes Hollywood may be a little out of her comfort zone. But the premise of a generations-spanning tale set in Hollywood is intriguing, and could show off the kind of ambitious character-driven storytelling that Caro excels at telling.

Though the book is described as a satire, Amblin Partners may be looking for their next Oscar-contending prestige flick following the success of 1917, which scored three Academy Awards and earned $375 million at the worldwide box office. For Beautiful Ruins, Amblin is reteaming with 1917's Neal Street Productions again, with Neal Street's Pippa Harris, Sam Mendes, and Julie Pastor set to produce, and Nicolas Brown executive producing.

Caro's next film, Mulan, can be seen in theaters on August 21, 2020, after several delays due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.