Ridley Scott, Joaquin Phoenix’s Napoleon Epic ‘Kitbag’ Sells to Apple Studios

Apple Studios will back Ridley Scott’s passion project, “Kitbag,” the latest cinematic attempt to find out what made Napoleon tick.

Joaquin Phoenix, fresh off his Oscar win for “Joker,” will play the military genius and French emperor. Scott previously plumbed Napoleonic territory with “The Duellists,” his 1977 feature film debut and the story of the rivalry between a Bonapartist and a French soldier. The director is currently putting the finishing touches on “The Last Duel” (a theme emerges in Scott’s oeuvre!), a historical epic with Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck.

“Kitbag” boasts a script by David Scarpa, who previously worked with Scott on “All the Money in the World.” It’s easily the kind of movie that traditional Hollywood studios used to make, before they abandoned those in favor of franchise movies and superhero flicks.

The film will offer up “a look at Napoleon’s origins and swift, ruthless climb to emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine.”

Napoleon has appeared frequently in film — in epics like “Désirée” and “Waterloo,” where he was essayed by the likes of Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger, as well as in the odd comedy (never forget “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”). Stanley Kubrick labored for years to get his own Napoleon movie made without ever getting his chance to put his own spin on the general.

Scott will produce the movie through Scott Free Productions alongside Kevin Walsh. The film expands Apple’s partnership with Scott Free Productions, which has a first-look deal for television projects with Apple TV Plus.

Apple has been aggressive in entering the film space, releasing the Oscar hopeful “On the Rocks,” as well as the Tom Hanks war film “Greyhound.” It recently beat out heavy competition to land the rights to “Emancipation,” which unites Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith, as well as “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which finds Martin Scorsese directing Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

Deadline broke the news of the “Kitbag” sale.

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