When Universal Pictures announced its plans to develop a Hannibal Lecter prequel based on Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon," the project carried the distinct, funky odor that emanates from all money-grubbing endeavors. But as more news has surfaced, the stench is dissipating and this film is quickly becoming verrrry interesting.
With Anthony Hopkins on board to reprise his Lecter role and Oscar-winning "Silence of the Lambs" screenwriter Ted Tally handling the writing chores, "Red Dragon" is attracting A-list talent. Though unconfirmed, 13th Street reports that Edward Norton is interested in co-starring as Will Graham, the FBI profiler who, much like Clarice Starling in "Lambs," turns to the incarcerated Lecter for help in tracking a serial killer. The hook with Graham is that he has a preexisting relationship with Lecter; he's the agent who originally nabbed the cannibal killer.
If this project rings a bell you've probably seen, or at least heard of, Michael Mann's "Manhunter." Released in 1986, "Manhunter" was the first adaptation of Harris' "Red Dragon," but despite being a tight, well-produced thriller, it lacked the Oscar-luster and box office clout of Hopkins. While it's unfortunate that the performances of "Manhunter" stars William Petersen (playing Will Graham) and Brian Cox (the "original" Lecter) will be overshadowed by the new "Red Dragon," the prospect of watching Norton and Hopkins trade psychological punches is enticing.
Production on "Red Dragon" is expected to begin in November. A release date hasn't been set, both "Lambs" and "Hannibal" were released in February, so it's quite possible "Red Dragon" will premiere in February 2003.