Released: 26 October
It’s been a while since the Wachowski brothers had a box-office hit, but maybe this unusual sci-fi epic will change their fortunes. Based on David Mitchell’s novel of the same name, it’s a sprawling tale with six interweaving story lines set across different ages in history. The cast is quite remarkable: Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon and Jim Broadbent are among the stars, who play multiple characters in each plot strand. Halle Berry, for example, plays a 70s journalist, a Jewish woman living in the 1930s, and a member of an advanced race from the 6th century.
The reaction to a six minute preview of Cloud Atlas screened in LA earlier this year was highly positive, and its distributor has described it as “phantasmagorical” and “unlike anything I’ve seen in 40 years in this business”. We do wonder about its chances at the box-office, though, particularly when one considers the unfortunate history behind Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, a similarly sprawling sci-fi parable that, after a troubled production, eventually made a disappointing $16 million return on its $35 million budget.
It’s also been said that some actors will not only play multiple characters in Cloud Atlas, but also characters of different races and genders - we’re not sure how well that will come across in the finished film. Tom Hanks dressed as a woman? Susan Sarandon with a beard? It could be the weirdest sci-fi flick since Zardoz.
With a budget of $100 million drawn together from international investors (Hollywood financiers thought the project too risky), Cloud Atlas sounds big, bold and ambitious. It could be a triumph or a catastrophe. However it turns out, Cloud Atlas certainly sounds intriguing.