Wachowskis’ ‘Cloud Atlas’ Finally Taking Off In September

By Sterling Wong

As ambitious big-budget projects get shut down or postponed indefinitely, one high-concept movie will finally begin shooting in less than a month’s time…but only with a reduced budget.

The Wachowski brothers and German director Tom Tykwer start work on “Cloud Atlas,” the adaptation of David Mitchell’s prodigious novel, in mid-to-late September in Germany after a delay in financing negotiations. The film’s budget had been touted as somewhere around $100 million to $120 million in the past, but producer Stefan Ardnt confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that it will be “definitely lower” than that.

’Cloud,’ which stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugo Weaving, spans several centuries, from 19th century Australia to a post-apocalyptic Hawaii, and follows six distinct yet ultimately interlocking storylines. The expansiveness of the saga undoubtedly presents the directing trio with the complicated challenge of bringing it all onto the big screen in coherent fashion (and with less than a 14-hour running time).

Ardnt is confident the trio has worked out a solution, saying, “”Many have called the novel unfilmable, but Tom [Tykwer] and the Wachowskis have found a way to tell these stories in an amazing, linear and very cinematic way.”

The Wachowskis and Tykwer have come up with a savvy method to split directing duties: They will shoot this sci-fi epic in parallel with two separate teams. We’re guessing the Wachowskis will be bringing their forward-looking “Matrix” vision to the futuristic parts of the film, while Tykwer will take charge of the period storylines.

With the reality of a weak global economy and lofty, big-budget fare like “Cowboys & Aliens” underperforming at the box office, it seems like the way to go forward for high-concept projects is to reign in the spending and go creative, as the Wachowskis and Tykwer will be doing. We’ll find out how this project ends up looking next year, as the trio is aiming for a Summer 2012 release.