Universal Sets Their ‘Scarface’ Reimagining, Scripted by The Coen Brothers [Updated]

     February 10, 2017


The most-recent Coen Brothers‘ project will probably be lost in the annals of history, but their newly announced script should stir up quite the conversation. Universal Pictures announced today that Joel and Ethan Coen have scripted the studio’s Scarface reimagining, a project the four-time Oscar winners might ultimately end up directing. To be clear, the script is from the Coens though no director is currently attached and Universal did not mention who was in talks to take the helm. [Update: Read below for two frontrunners who have emerged for the job.]

However, the new take on Brian De Palma‘s classic 1983 crime story about a Cuban immigrant (Al Pacino) who climbs the ranks of a Miami drug cartel has had some difficulty landing a director over the last few years. In 2013, David Yates was in final talks, then came Pablo Larraín in 2014, and then Antoine Fuqua just last year. They all came and went. Currently, the project is director-less, but the Coens sure know their way around a camera, even moreso when it’s their own script.

coen-brothers-scarfaceSpeaking of the script, this thing has gone through a lot of iterations since its inceptionDavid Ayer was going to take a crack at it in 2011, with Paul Attanasio coming in a year later for a rewrite. Then in 2015, Straight Outta Compton writer Jonathan Herman turned in another draft, followed by a polish from The Wolf of Wall Street writer Terence Winter. That was the last we heard of until the most recent “polish” (this thing must be so shiny at this point…) by the Coens. There’s no way of knowing just yet whether the central plot following a Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles is still intact after all the hands the script has passed through. We’ll find out for sure in August 2018!

Update: THR reports that Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie and Patriot’s Day director Peter Berg are in talks with Universal to helm Scarface. The write-up has some interesting backstory on Mackenzie and Berg’s relationship to the studio and to each other, but for me, the more interesting story is what we’re going to get from a Scarface retelling scripted by the Coens and directed by either Mackenzie, who made a big splash recently with his Neo-Western, or Berg, whose last outing our own Perri Nemiroff said “isn’t an easy watch, but it’s a necessary one – perhaps now more so than ever.” It’s unfortunate that we can’t get both versions!

Here’s the official word from Universal Studios:

Universal Pictures’ UNTITLED UNIVERSAL EVENT FILM has been announced as SCARFACE and will be released on the film’s previously announced date: Friday, August 10, 2018.


An explosive reimagining of one of the most iconic sagas in film history, Universal Pictures’ SCARFACE shoots from a script polished by four-time Academy Award® winners Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, Fargo). A Bluegrass Films and Global Produce production, the drama will be produced by Marc Shmuger (Lucy), Scott Stuber (Ted) and Dylan Clark (Planet of the Apes series). Martin Bregman, who produced the 1983 film, serves in the same capacity in the telling of this generation’s SCARFACE, which the studio first brought to the screen in 1932.


Image via Universal Pictures

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