'Kitbag' Retitled 'Napoleon' & Ridley Scott Explains 'Merlin Saga' Exit

Director Ridley Scott is coming off an impressive run in 2021, with both “The Last Duel” and “House of Gucci” receiving awards buzz. While it remains to be seen how those two films will fare at the Academy Awards ceremony, Scott likely doesn’t even care and is prepping his very next film project at Apple Studios.

Previously known as “Kitbag,” Deadline reveals Scott’s biopic focused on Napoleon Bonaparte starring Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master,” “Joker”) will now be retitled to “Napoleon.” A much less exciting title but likely meant to hammer home to audiences who the subject is, given that kitbag isn’t a commonly known phrase (it’s derived from the old-fashioned saying, “There is a general’s staff hidden in every soldier’s kitbag.”)

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The project recently saw British actress Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”) take over for Jodie Comer (“The Last Duel”) as Josephine, Bonaparte’s great love. “Napoleon” is expected to begin production soon and will be released sometime in 2023.

Scott has also explained to THR why he ultimately didn’t make “The Merlin Saga” movie at Disney that was being adapted from T.A.Barron’s young Merlin novels by screenwriter Philippa Boyens (the “Lord of The Rings” trilogy) back in 2018 with the director attached to shoot it.

Not one to sugarcoat his thoughts, Scott bluntly said, “They wanted me to do a wizard film, and I don’t do wizard films. It wasn’t a good idea.”

“Merlin Saga” seemed to harken back to when Ridley Scott made the magical fantasy film “Legend” in the 1980s. The lesser-known pic used groundbreaking in-camera, makeup, and forced-perspective visual effects that would be later used again in PeterJackson’s “Lord of The Rings.” So, Unicorns are good, wizards are bad. Gotcha.

It’s worth noting that Disney had been developing a live-action “The Sword In The Stone” film at the very same time that would also feature Merlin (an older version) and was inspired by the animated movie released in 1963. But Scott was never publicly in the mix for it.

We have to assume Scott won’t reconsider to “Merlin Saga” as he keeps moving full steam ahead on new projects, including a sequel to “Gladiator,” a potential third “Alien” prequel movie (big maybe), executive producing an “Alien” series being overseen by Noah Hawley (“Fargo”) and developing a live-action series set in the “Blade Runner” universe.