In what is becoming a Capote-esque race to get to the screen first, the twoNapoleon movies about his final days on St Helena and his friendship with a 15-year-oldare now both set to go before the cameras.
Patrice Chereau has declaredthat he will shoot his $20 million The Monster Of Longwood this winter, beating the Scarlett Johansson project NapoleonAnd Betsy which cannot shoot until2007 due to the Johansson's hectic schedule.
Following a lengthyrights-untangling process, Chereau's Azor Films has acquired the rights to thebook Betsy And The Emperor byStaton Rabin. Producers' representatives Olivier Aknin and Joel Thibout ofBackUp Films are in Cannes drumming up financing and structuring the project asa UK/France/Germany co-production.
Howard Rosenman, ColleenCamp and Fonda Snyder will remain attached as producers to the Chereau film,which is now produced by Azor and BackUp, although it is still unclear whetherAl Pacino, who was attached to play Napoleon, will be involved.
Meanwhile, Johansson, whowas at one time attached to play Betsy in the Chereau film, has set up her ownproject Napoleon And Betsy atMillenium/Nu Image and is planning to shoot it next year after she has finishedThe Nanny Diaries and shot BarryLevinson's Brilliant, also forMillenium.
Benjamin Ross is scheduledto direct with Johansson's mother Melanie among the producers.
Ironically Chereau, a formerpresident of the Cannes jury, himself starred as Napoleon in Youseef Chahine's AdieuBonaparte in 1985.