In the annals of unfinished feature films, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote remains one of the most storied. Terry Gilliam has been trying to get the movie off the ground for almost 18 years, and he was nearly there on multiple occasions. Now, the re-imagining of the classic tale looks like it’s getting another shot as a new financier has stepped in to produce the film.
The Hollywood Reporter has it that Paulo Branco has agreed to produce the film on a $18.25 million budget. Branco’s Paris-based Alfama Films will serve as the production company alongside Spain’s Tornasol Films and Portugal’s Leopardo Filmes. Shooting is expected to begin this September in Spain and Portugal.
The story is a satirical revision of Miguel de Cervantes’s original Don Quixote tale. Co-written by Gilliam and Tony Grisoni, the plot sees a 21st century marketing executive named Toby Grisoni (oh, screenwriters) traveling back in time and replacing Sancho Panza as Quixote’s traveling companion.
This will actually be the second time The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has begun shooting. In 2002, Gilliam secured $32.1 million for the film and began production with Jean Rochefort as Quixote and Johnny Depp in the role of Grisoni. However, following tribulations including floods, insurance issues, and Rochefort falling ill, the movie was scrapped. A planned behind-the-scenes feature filmed during that doomed production was eventually expanded into the acclaimed documentary Lost in La Macha, which included completed scenes from the shoot.
Eight years later, with Depp still attached, the team found new funding and recast the lead with Robert Duvall. When Depp’s schedule became too complicated, he was replaced with Ewan McGregor. The production collapsed again in 2010, only to be picked up once more in 2014. This time, Amazon Studios was set to release the film with John Hurt as Quixote and Jack O’Connel as Grisoni. After Hurt was diagnosed with cancer, however, that iteration was also suspended. Filming was expected to begin earlier this year, so it’s possible O’Connel is still attached.
With a history like that, though, it’s hard to believe The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is actually happening until we see the first trailer. In the meantime, watch the only preview ever made that has anything to do with the film — the trailer for Lost in La Macha — below.