Working With Disney Wasn't Something Ridley Scott Was Willing To Do

Did you know that expert stylist and proudly grumpy octogenarian Ridley Scott came very close to working with Disney not too long ago? It's an odd pairing on paper. Where the Mouse House was the go-to source for family entertainment long before it started taking over the industry, Scott has spent most of his career directing movies geared towards adults. Even as studios have shifted away from modestly-budgeted films intended for adult audiences, the filmmaker has carried on making R-rated period pieces, dramas, and thrillers, with the occasional PG-13 (but still adult-targeted) feature like "The Martian."

Scott's output from the past decade includes films about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III ("All the Money in the World"), a sequel to his "Alien" prequel "Prometheus" ("Alien: Covenant"), and a re-telling of the Biblical story of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt ("Exodus: Gods and Kings"). Up next for him is "Napoleon," a movie that looks at French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte through the lens of his relationship with his wife, Empress Joséphine. After that? A follow-up to "Gladiator," Scott's swords-and-sandals epic which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2000.

What is it, exactly, that draws Scott to projects these days? "The older I get, the more I look for things which are about something, aren't just entertainment. It must have an effect on somebody," he explained to The Hollywood Reporter. He also pointed to this as the reason why he said no to Disney when the studio approached him with a movie in the wake of buying Fox (Scott's go-to studio for a long time): "They wanted me to do a wizard film, and I don't do wizard films. It wasn't a good idea."

No wizards for Ridley Scott, thank you very much

Scott could be referring to one of two Disney "wizard films" here. The first is "The Merlin Saga," a film based on T.A. Barron's book series that explores the life of the legendary wizard Merlin as a young man long before he mentored King Arthur. Scott was said to be in talks to direct the film in January 2018, with Philippa Boyens (the screenwriter behind "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy) penning the screenplay. The project has been in the works at Disney since 2014, back when John Zinman and Patrick Masset ("Friday Night Lights") were working on the script.

The other suspect is "The Sword in the Stone," a live-action remake of Disney's animated 1963 movie (based on T. H. White's 1938 novel) that also features Merlin as a key character. Horror maestro Juan Carlos Fresnadillo ("28 Weeks Later," "Intruders") came aboard to direct the film shortly after Scott met with Disney executives to discuss the project in early 2018, with Bryan Cogman ("Game of Thrones") writing the script.

Four and a half years later, neither "The Merlin Saga" nor "The Sword in the Stone" have yet to make any further progress. In the meantime, Scott has gone off and finished two more films ("The Last Duel" and "House of Gucci"), with "Napoleon" well on the way to being done in the foreseeable future. One imagines Disney would have preferred he knocked out one or, knowing the speed at which Scott works, both of its "wizard films" instead, but you can't begrudge him for sticking to the things he's passionate about.