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Napoleon - What We Know So Far

As a director, Ridley Scott became a household name with 1979's "Alien" and 1982's "Blade Runner," both of which remain popular sci-fi classics. Today, he has nearly 30 feature-length film directing credits to his name, including 1991's "Thelma & Louise," 2000's "Gladiator," and 2015's "The Martian" (via IMDb). The directing titan is so prolific he even released two movies in 2020: "The Last Duel," starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and "House of Gucci," starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver.

Joining Scott's long list of directorial credits is "Napoleon" (formerly titled "Kitbag"), his next project, currently in pre-production at Apple Studios. Announced in October 2020 by Deadline, the upcoming historical film will delve into Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power as a 19th-century leader. David Scarpa, who penned Scott's 2017 pic "All the Money in the World," is the screenwriter on "Napoleon" (via IMDb). Scott will also serve as a producer on "Napoleon" with his production company, Scott Free Productions. In May 2020, Variety reported that Apple had landed a first-look deal with Scott Free Productions for television projects. With "Napoleon," it seems the Scott Free-Apple relationship is expanding. In January 2021, nearly a year after Scott Free's initial first-look deal announcement, Deadline reported Apple Studios would finance and produce "Napoleon." 

Here's everything else we know so far about Ridley Scott's "Napoleon." 

Is there a release date yet for Napoleon?

At the time of writing, an exact release date for "Napoleon" has not been set. However, according to Collider, the film is scheduled to come out sometime in 2023. A November 2021 report by Collider also notes that the movie was scheduled to begin filming in January 2022. If the production sticks to that basic start date, that gives those eager to see the movie every reason to believe that 2023 will indeed be the year they get their eyes on Ridley Scott's latest. The question, of course, is exactly when in 2023 that will be. 

Considering the epic scope, its Oscar-nominated director, and star-studded cast (more on them in a moment), "Napoleon" seems destined to launch in the fall or winter to capitalize on the buzz of awards season. That being said, there's always the possibility that this historical epic will be tapped to compete with the summer blockbusters, or that the movie turns out to be a dud and is relegated to a February or March release. But considering both of Scott's most recent films — "The Last Duel" and "House of Gucci" — had fall release dates, we're going to say that "Napoleon" is likely to follow suit. Expect the film to be released in late 2023. 

Who is in the cast of Napoleon?

At the time of writing, three actors have signed on for "Napoleon" thus far. Joaquin Phoenix will play famed French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, while Vanessa Kirby will be playing his first wife, Empress Josephine. "Killing Eve" and "Free Guy" star Jodie Comer had originally signed on to play Josephine, which would have been her second collaboration with Ridley Scott after "The Last Duel." However, in Janurary 2022, it was announced that Kirby had replaced Comer in the role after the latter had to leave the project due to scheduling conflicts (via Decider).  

"Napoleon" will mark the second time Phoenix has worked with Scott, the first being a different historical epic, 2000's "Gladiator." That film earned Phoenix his first-ever Oscar nomination. In 2020, Phoenix won his first Oscar for his performance in "Joker," in which he played Arthur Fleck, aka famous DC supervillain Joker. Kirby landed her first Oscar nomination in 2021 for her performance in "Pieces of a Woman." She was previously nominated for an Emmy for portraying Princess Margaret on Netflix's "The Crown."

Phoenix and Kirby will be joined in the film by Moroccan-British actor Youssef Kerkour, who had a small role in Scott's "House of Gucci" (via NME). Kerkour's role has not yet been specified, nor have any other actors been announced as appearing in the project at this time.

What do we know about the plot of Napoleon?

According to the film's IMDb page, "Napoleon" will present an "original and personal look at Napoleon Bonaparte's origins and his swift, ruthless climb to becoming emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine." Deadline's October 2020 report on the project adds that the film will also dive into some of Napoleon's famous battles, as well as his "relentless ambition and astounding strategic mind as an extraordinary military leader and war visionary." 

Napoleon undoubtedly had an action-filled life that offers plenty of material for "Napoleon." Based on this early tease, it sounds like we can also expect the movie to focus on his relationship with Josephine. Considering her role attracted big-name talents like Vanessa Kirby and Jodie Comer, we're guessing Josephine will play a fairly significant part in the film. According to Britannica, Josephine was 32 years old when she married Napoleon, then 26, following the death of her first husband. Both went on to have extramarital affairs and eventually divorced when the two didn't produce an heir. And you can be sure that there was a lot of relationship drama in between. We can't wait to see how the historically fraught couple's relationship plays out on screen with "Napoleon."