Lunatic at Large

Last year, filmmaker Terry Gilliam (Brazil, Time Bandits, 12 Monkeys) said he was supposed to begin filming a movie based on an unmade Stanley Kubrick film – but the coronavirus pandemic caused the whole thing to fall apart. A report at the time indicated that the mysterious project was Lunatic at Large, a 70-page treatment based on a Kubrick idea that Kubrick’s then-producing partner James B. Harris commissioned from acclaimed crime writer Jim Thompson in the 1950s.

Now two different producers have optioned the screen rights to the project, and intend to begin filming it this year.

Variety reports that producers Bruce Hendricks and Galen Walker have acquired the screen rights to Lunatic at Large, and they plan to begin production on the movie sometime in the fall of 2021.

Exact details are still being kept under lock and key, but the film is described as a film-noir thriller. The project never materialized during Kubrick’s lifetime, but after his death in 1999, the treatment came to light and garnered some interest. Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell were once attached to star in a movie version which never happened, and most recently, Gilliam was reportedly attached before having to bow out due to the pandemic. Here is an early description of what the project might entail, but keep in mind, some of these details could be out of date:

Set in New York in 1956, it tells the story of Johnnie Sheppard, a former carnival worker with serious anger-management issues, and Joyce, a nervous, attractive barfly he picks up in a Hopperesque tavern scene. There’s a newsboy who flashes a portentous headline, a car chase over a railroad crossing with a train bearing down, and a romantic interlude in a spooky, deserted mountain lodge. The great set piece is a nighttime carnival sequence in which Joyce, lost and afraid, wanders among the tents and encounters a sideshow’s worth of familiar carnie types: the Alligator Man, the Mule-Faced Woman, the Midget Monkey Girl, the Human Blockhead, with the inevitable noggin full of nails.

Hendricks spent twenty years working as the president of physical production at the Walt Disney Studios, overseeing films like The Sixth Sense, The Rock, and Alice in Wonderland and executive producing the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Walker produced the 2007 animated TMNT and Platinum Dunes’ two more recent live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films.

“The opportunity to bring a Stanley Kubrick project to the screen after so many years is a dream come true,” Walker said in a statement. “We look forward to making a film in keeping with his unique style and vision.” Hendricks chimed in with a statement of his own: “Stanley Kubrick was an enormous influence on so many directors, and we are honored that the Kubrick Estate has entrusted us with one of his original ideas.”

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