The first big-budget Russian blockbuster, WWII epic Stalingrad, was an absolutely stunning visual experience, and when it became the highest-grossing film in Russian cinematic history, it seemed pretty clear that we hadn’t heard the last of its director, Fedor Bondarchuk. Now, it appears that Warner Bros. has recruited the helmer to direct its big-budget Greek epic Odysseus, which aims to turn the classic tale transcribed in Homer’s The Odyssey into an action-packed spectacle.
Bondarchuk, the son of Oscar-winning helmer Sergei Bondarchuk (who received the Best Foreign Film Oscar for his movie War and Peace back in 1968), made Stalingrad for around $30 million, and the flick went on to gross $66 million, setting records in Russia. It was also the first Russian movie to be shot in IMAX 3D. Despite Stalingrad featuring a huge amount of battle sequences, Bondarchuk kept the budget low by staging everything without the use of green screen or extensive special effects, which likely stunned Warner Bros. executives who are used to their helmers requiring huge budgets for effects work. The fact that Stalingrad played exceptionally well in China, taking in $11 million, is likely another part of the reason why Warner Bros. wants Bondarchuk on board for Odysseus.
The big-budget epic will serve as Bondarchuk’s Hollywood debut. With news of his hiring, the Stalingrad helmer becomes the first Russian director to cross over to Hollywood since Timur Bekmambetov broke out in 2008 with the Angelina Jolie action thriller Wanted.
Jeremy Doner, who penned episodes of AMC/Netflix’s The Killing and FX/DirecTV’s Damages, will be handling the script for Odysseus. No release date has yet been announced, but Warner Bros. likely wants to get filming under way as soon as the screenplay is ready. In recent years, there have been a number of films grounded in Greek mythology and literature, like Troy, The Legend of Hercules, Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans and Immortals. Unfortunately, another thing all those films have in common is that they’re pretty terrible. Hopefully Odysseus will find greater success.