It’s been an interesting cinematic journey for Sophia Coppola. The one-time punching bag, whose flat line readings and nepotistic casting for The Godfather Part III brought her early infamy, has become a first-rate, if highly idiosyncratic, filmmaker in her own right in the past few years. A decade ago, she became only the third woman in history to be nominated for the Best Directing Academy Award for her melancholic art house smash Lost in Translation (she won the statue for penning the film’s original screenplay.) None of the succeeding films (Marie Antoinette, Somewhere, The Bling Ring) have been quite as well received by mainstream audiences, but have maintained an enduring cult of admirers. It looks as if the filmmaker may be going in a different direction altogether for her next project, as Deadline reports she is eying a live-action adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid for Universal Pictures and Working Title.
Anderson’s fairly tales have been put to film for nearly as long as the medium has been around. Disney even pillaged the Anderson story “The Snow Queen” as the basis for their current smash Frozen. The most famous rendering of The Little Mermaid is the 1989 Disney animated feature, which revived animated film for the Mouse House along with the musical genre. Yet a live action version is another can of worms, probably further formed out of a surge in recent years of live action fairy tales that have become wildly successful bolstered by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Rupert Sander’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Upcoming projects like Maleficent with Angelina Jolie and Cinderella with Cate Blanchett hope to follow suit.
The story of the upcoming Little Mermaid looks to follow the page as it centers around a beguiling mermaid who, after falling in love with a human, makes a bargain to join her man above the waves. Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands) is currently taking on a re-write of the script – previous drafts were done by writers Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks) and Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady.) At one time, director Joe Wright (Hanna, Atonement) was attached to direct, but curiously withdrew to take on another live-action fairy tale with the Warner Bros. project Pan, a new take on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. No further announcements regarding The Little Mermaid have been officially made, but if Coppola indeed does sign on, expect an entirely different take on the source material. Could we see a turn towards the decidedly more tragic original story? (Disney sanitized their adaptation significantly.) Coppola’s past work suggests maybe so, but we’ll have to wait and see.