A pair of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy biopics, and more dueling projects in development

By Dave Karger
Updated May 28, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

In Hollywood it’s never good to be second. Just ask anyone involved with Infamous, the ”other Truman Capote movie” that grossed just $1.2 million in 2006, compared with Capote’s $28.8 million. Now four pairs of projects are playing chicken. We examine the face-offs and pick who’s poised to take the win.

·Marilyn Monroe
Bombshells Michelle Williams and Naomi Watts are both planning to play the film legend in the coming months. Williams will star in The Weinstein Co.’s My Week With Marilyn, about the late sex symbol’s experience working with Laurence Olivier on 1957’s The Prince and the Showgirl. British director Simon Curtis (Cranford) is scheduled to begin shooting this fall. Watts will play Monroe in an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 biographical novel Blonde. A rep for the actress says she’ll begin filming with director Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James…) in January.
Verdict Since My Week is so narrowly focused and Blonde promises to be more of a typical biopic, the two projects could coexist.

·The Three Musketeers
A number of European actors are teaming up for Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptation of the oft-filmed Alexandre Dumas novel. Brits Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans, and Ray Stevenson are set to play the titular trio, while Orlando Bloom and Christoph Waltz will appear as villains the Duke of Buckingham and Cardinal Richelieu. Filming will begin in August, and Summit plans to release what a source who’s read the script calls an ”adventure comedy” in summer 2011. Meanwhile, director Doug Liman is prepping a Three Musketeers film for Warner Bros. A studio source says it will update the story á la last year’s Sherlock Holmes.
Verdict It sounds cool, but with no cast announced and a fall start, Liman’s version will have to play catch-up if it’s going to have a chance against Anderson’s.

·20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Disney has enlisted David Fincher and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (The Informant!) to adapt Jules Verne’s sci-fi epic, while Fox, along with producers Ridley and Tony Scott, has a finished script by Clash of the Titans‘ Travis Beacham. The studio is hoping Wanted‘s Timur Bekmambetov will direct Beacham’s version, which is set in the future.
Verdict With Fincher said to be helming The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo before diving into 20,000, the Fox project has the edge.

·Jackie Kennedy
Oscar winner Rachel Weisz and her director husband, Darren Aronofsky, will tackle the icon in Jackie, about the days following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, while Katie Holmes will play the former First Lady in the History channel’s 2011 miniseries The Kennedys, which a rep for the network says will cover ”JFK’s early political career through his presidency.”
Verdict Competing with a powerhouse like Weisz could be daunting — luckily for Holmes, the two projects are for different-size screens.