While its popularity has ebbed and flowed over the 100-plus years that movies have been a thing, one genre that never seems to go out of style for too long is the historical drama. This makes perfect sense really, as instead of just dryly reading or being told about the straight facts surrounding a important event or period in history, audiences can be entertained by a dramatic re-telling of what happened. Whether such films go too far with their use of dramatic license when telling these truth-based tales is an entirely different discussion.
One historical figure who’s certainly no stranger to the world of film or pop culture in general is genius inventor – and notoriously shrewd businessman – Thomas Edison, lead developer of devices like the electric light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera; items which most people on Earth would likely agree have made a pretty big impact on human society.
The latest film project to be made concerning Edison comes courtesy of The Weinstein Company, and is entitled The Current War. A fact-based drama set in the 1880s, The Current War shines a spotlight on the rivalry that took place between Edison and George Westinghouse, with the men vying to create a sustainable electricity distribution system. Benedict Cumberbatch was already signed on to star as Edison, and now Deadline reports that fellow powerhouse actor Michael Shannon is on-board to play Westinghouse.
The script for The Current War is being penned by Michael Mitnick (The Giver), while Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, American Horror Story) is set to direct. Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) will produce. This will mark the first time that Shannon and Cumberbatch have ever shared the screen, although both actors have only seen their profiles rise since the turn of the decade.
Cumberbatch in particular has been a magnet for franchise roles, playing Sherlock for the BBC, voicing Smaug in The Hobbit series, re-interpreting Khan for Star Trek Into Darkness, and soon entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Doctor Strange. For his part, Shannon turned in a mostly well-received portrayal of Zod in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, and has earned critical raves and multiple award nominations for his work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and in dramas like Take Shelter and 99 Homes.
On the surface, one wouldn’t think that the collective geek cred held by Cumberbatch and Shannon would matter much to the box office of what looks to be a prestige drama like The Current War. Still, it’s not hard to imagine that a few moviegoers who wouldn’t normally be interested in such a project might give it a chance, if only to pretend that Doctor Strange and Zod have left their supernatural lives behind for the simple pleasures of business domination.
The Current War has no official release date at present.