If I asked you to name a director who'd be well suited for bringing the last days of Pompeii (back) to the silver screen, whose name would you throw out? Roland Emmerich? Wolfgang Petersen? The late Irwin Allen? Nope. How about Roman Polanski? Doesn't matter if you agree with me that it seems a strange fit; Roman just got $130 million to work with and he's not coming back without a big, flashy Pompeii movie.
As with most of Mr. Polanski's recent films, Pompeii (which will be based on the novel of the same name by Robert Harris) will be bankrolled by private investment sources -- and then sold off to distributors around the world, thereby making almost all its money back before the flick even hits a screen. (Unless the thing turns out to be a monumental turkey, which is always a possibility when a filmmaker ventures too far from his comfort zone -- and I'd call "Roman Polanski's Pompeii" precisely that type of venture.) According to Variety, Pompeii will be about a young engineer who has to repair a vital aqueduct, woo a fair maiden and deal with all sorts of nasty old Roman politics. And then a whole lot of CG-intensive lava-splatters and dramatic carnage. I'm picturing Volcanic Titanic, basically.
Although best known for films like Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown, Roman Polanski is certainly no stranger to over-budget and underwhelming movies. His 1986 bomb Pirates is one such example, plus I vaguely remember him doing an occult thriller with Johnny Depp in the late nineties. Polanski's last two films were certainly not what you'd call low-budget: 2002's The Pianist was certainly "grand in scope," and 2005's Oliver Twist was no chintzy affair. But $130 million for a period-piece disaster flick? Polanski? Really?