March 10th, 2015 / 6 Comments

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What do we know so far about this film, other than James Gray adapted the screenplay from David Grann’s novel, it’s been in gestation for quite some time and Brad Pitt was originally slated to star.  I thought I would piece together some sort of timeline given the period that has elapsed since we first heard about Rob’s involvement in 2013 to what is happening now.  I’m still praying that it actually starts filming in a few months:

  • Rob plays the role of Henry Costin (assistant to
  • Col. Percival Fawcett:  originally Brad Pitt (20o8); then Benedict Cumberbatch (2013) and now Charlie Hunnam (2015);
  • Sienna Miller will play Nina Fawcett (Percy’s wife);
  • The film was originally optioned in 2008, script pre-sold in Cannes in 2010; development unknown in December 2010; script resufarced to be sold at American Film Market in 2013 and has been in pre-production since December 2014;
  • Financing this film was going to be difficult, MICA Entertainment has now taken over financing and is coproducing;
  • Shoot is likely to be in Colombia and Belfast (see note below in Trivia);
  • According to Variety back in December 2008 ““This is a terrific opportunity to do something entirely different for me,” Gray said. “It is a story that will be told with an epic scale, with a main character who is larger than life.””;
  • Supposedly filming “summer” hopefully meaning some time between June-August 2015 *fingerstightlycrossed*

From director, James Gray:

The Playlist:

“The movie is being produced by Brad Pitt‘s shingle Plan B (he was going to star in a previous iteration of the film before it fell apart at Paramount). The film is an adaptation of David Grann‘s book, telling the story of English soldier-turned-explorer Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, whose obsession with the Amazon and belief that an ancient civilization resided there led him on many expeditions where he narrowly escaped death. After financing eventually dried up, Fawcett self-funded one last adventure into the Amazon with his son, from which neither returned. We presume Cumberbatch will play Fawcett, and while there’s no word yet on Pattinson’s role, perhaps he’ll play the son?

As for the tone of the picture, Gray had said to us he’s aiming for the epic scale of David Lean but with a “slightly more hallucinogenic feel. Because [the protagonist] went to the jungle and sorta went mad.” (Nov 2013)

“… [and] developing “The Lost City of Z” — [it’s] a hard one to get made. It needs a star and Benedict Cumberbatch will be great [Robert Pattinson is also in the cast]. …

Pitt was once attached to “The Lost City of Z.” Is there a flavor you’re going for? 
Hopefully when we go into the jungle to film the movie will find its own language. It’s an epic movie and it’s very much in the 60mm epic style. That’s what the starting point will be, but I have a feeling it will get a little more hallucinatory than that. I have huge hopes and dreams for it. Adapting the book is difficult because you have to decide what to keep and what to let go. The main character, here’s a guy who did everything he could to fit in, and in the end maybe he didn’t, but he discovered something amazing. And that’s what something that moves me very much. That’s the thing that attracts me.

Where is “Lost City Of Z” going to shoot? That would shoot in the U.K., probably Belfast, and Colombia. That’s got Benedict Cumberbatch who’s perfectly cast. I’ve raised the money for that and I may go do that in January.

The jungle sequences in Colombia? Probably Colombia because they have—the lead character, he was actually in Brazil and Bolivia, but you can’t possibly shoot there. The infrastructure, there’s no … when I went down there there’s nothing there. Even Werner Herzog shot in Peru. Whereas when I went to scout in Bolivia—I mean you couldn’t shoot there. So, it looks like Colombia is a real option because it’s the correct vegetation, it’s the Amazon, it’s a jungle, it’s also got mountains and it’s got indigenous peoples who are correct for the movie. So it looks like it’s going to be there and then the U.K. segment is tough because London has really nothing going for it that is correct in terms of 1905.

Last time we spoke you mentioned it may have a David Lean-esque quality to it.  Yes, although David Lean is of course a major figure but … people have asked me about “Apocalypse Now” and those kind of movies. Of course those are all great and they’re a huge inspiration and so is Lean. But I’m really trying, the older I get and believe me my lower back tells me how much older I’m getting, I’m trying to forget the kind of approach which I’ve had. On the last two movies I’ve watched far fewer movies beforehand and I’m trying to come at the pieces as organically as I can and not think of other movies. Now of course unconsciously that shit’s always going to come out, I’m always going to rip off something.” (May 2014)

“’The Lost City of Z’ looks like it will happen,” Gray said with his casual cautiousness. “That’s got Benedict Cumberbatch [in the lead] who’s perfectly cast. I’ve raised the money for that, and I may go do that in January.” (Though last night at BAMcinematek, during a Q&A which yours truly moderated, Gray said September). Co-starring Robert Pattinson, who Gray confirmed is still attached and recently also said the film would likely shoot in Jan, “The Lost City Of Z” is set in 1925 and centers on a legendary British explorer who ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of a fabled civilization and never again returned. (7 May 2014)

Crave Online:

“Speaking of moving on: The Lost City of Z (a period adventure film, concerning British surveyors looking for a city in the jungles of Brazil; Z was set up to be made with Brad Pitt back in 2004) appears to be ready to film (with Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Pattinson). Do you have a start date?

We’ll begin filming in January. I’m going to start prepping in September. It’s a very elaborate film and requires extensive prep. We’re going to shoot in two different countries. It’s going to be a very challenging, but hopefully rewarding shoot.

You’ve been close to making Z a few times, what type of film can we expect? Has it changed in scope over the past decade?

I want to ask the same question with each film, which is: what does it mean to be a human being? The Lost City of Z is almost set on two different planets – the jungle and Victorian England. What does it mean to be a civilized person? This to me is a profound question. What is progress? Is progress just economic growth? Or is it understanding what’s around us? Is it growth of emotional intelligence or GDP growth? How do we contemplate new and old ideas of humanity? That to me is what Z is about.” (May 2014)


Dede Garner producer:

We’ve Got This Covered:

“As for when we’ll be seeing The Lost City of Z, producer Dede Gardner (part of Brad Pitt’s Plan B shingle) recently expressed optimism that shooting would commence sometime next summer. The production start date keeps getting pushed back as a budget is negotiated and more stars are locked into place, but let’s keep our fingers crossed that all involved can stick to the current plan and put The Lost City of Z out in time for it to contend for awards in the fall of 2016.”


Benedict Cumberbatch (when he was still attached to the film):

In May 2014, Benedict Cumberbatch told RPAU:

  • logistically this film was going to be difficult to make;
  • he thought the filming was going to happen in June/July 2014 (obviously we know that didn’t eventuate).

Philippine Daily Inquirer:

“…. I did actually have quite a lot of time at the beginning of this year. I was going to be doing a film, ‘The Lost City of Z’ with (director) James Gray. That was put on hold because of problems with the location. Hopefully, it will start in spring next year.

“[LCOZ] is James’ adaptation of David Grann’s bestseller. He will portray Lt. Colonel Percival “Percy” Fawcett, a British artillery officer, archaeologist and explorer who supposedly discovered a mythical city in Brazil’s Amazon jungles in 1925.”


Rob during The Rover UK promo:


“Next he’s off to Colombia for The Lost City Of Z, starring as the assistant to famed British explorer Percy Fawcett, played by Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch. ‘It’s going to be an impossible shoot,’ he says.”


Articles on Sienna Miller’s involvement:


“What’s going on with James Gray’s “The Lost City Of Z” other than having two stars attached in Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Pattinson? Well, like many ambitious indies out there, it’s seemingly struggling to get all its financing in place. But there is movement on the horizon. In various interviews with Vogue and The L.A. TimesSienna Miller has stated that she’ll be joining Gray’s Amazonian mystery about a British explorer who ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of a fabled civilization, and never returned to his family.

Cumberbatch is set to play the lead Percival Fawcett, Pattinson is said to play Henry Costin, a bored British corporal who answers Fawcett’s advertisement for a jungle adventure abroad, and Miller would presumably play Fawcett’s wife as there aren’t many other main female characters in the book.”


Articles on Charlie Hunnam’s replacement of Benedict:

““Sons of Anarchy” alum Charlie Hunnam will replace Benedict Cumberbatch in James Gray‘s “Lost City of Z,” which also stars Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller, it was announced Tuesday by MICA Entertainment, which has come on board to finance the film.

Cumberbatch was forced to drop out of the project due to Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” and now rising movie star Hunnam will play Col. Percival Fawcett in the adaptation of David Grann’s acclaimed bestseller. …. Production is slated to start this summer.” (The Wrap)

“Production is expected to start this summer. The project is based on David Grann’s 2009 book of the same name.

Hunnam will portray Percy Fawcett, a British surveyor who disappeared in the 1920s while searching for a mythical city in the Amazon jungles of Brazil that he believed he discovered on a prior expedition.” (Variety)

“Sierra/Affinity is handling international sales at Berlin’s EFM, with CAA handling the domestic sale.  Production is set to begin in the summer.” (Deadline)



  • According to back in 2010:
    •  Col. Fawcett was one of the inspirations for the character of Indiana Jones; and
    •  “So why exactly did Pitt depart? Vulture explains: “The issue was an impasse with Paramount over compensation for Lost City’s director James Gray (The Yards, We Own the Night).” Seeing as how Z has been retardedly slow in getting out of development”
  • The Playlist in 2010 reported “The adventure tale was being excitingly billed as a “Lawrence Of Arabia“-style epic and now had Inferno Entertainment‘s Bill Johnson and Jim Siebel on board alongside Pitt and his Plan B shingle with buyers at Cannes “flocking to the project” earlier this year. The thought was, at the time, principal photography could commence as soon as Pitt completed his turn on “Moneyball” which shot this summer. But it’s not gonna happen. Vulture reports that Paramount and the project have officially lost Pitt. Why? As they say it, because of the Dominik project and the fact that apparently there was a pay impasse for Gray with Paramount that could not be reconciled.”  (Maria:   Pitt pulled out to do “Cogan’s Trade” which eventually was known as “Killing Them Softly”).
  • I checked out filming in Colombia and found this interesting little tidbit from a previous shoot from The Location Guide:  “Protected indigenous communities live in the Sierra Nevada. The production wanted to do aerial shots with helicopters over the protected area for several days and needed to land in Ciudad Perdida (Lost City). It was a big challenge to obtain the permits from both National Parks and the Institute of Anthropology and History. In the end they understood it was a great opportunity to show our culture and natural beauty abroad and agreed on a schedule.”  It’s probably just coincidence but it could be where they are thinking of filming in Colombia.  Time will, of course, tell.  At this stage I’m just speculating.


All original articles and links are available at our  Lost City of Z Film page.

  • Carmel
    Posted on March 11, 2015

    Bloody amazing Maria – The Columbia detective work in particular. Bravo

  • Jules
    Posted on March 11, 2015

    I second Carmel, this is yet another incredible post!! I can’t thank you enough for pulling all this together. It’s such a fantastic read….so happy Rob is down to play Henry Costin. Everything crossed for this to go ahead as planned and with Rob!! I won’t take anything for granted!! 😉

  • Roberta
    Posted on March 11, 2015

    Maria. What a post. Thx so much for this. Great to read. Fingers crossed for this movie. I’d be so disappointed if for some reason it won’t happen. Thx a lot.

  • Trish
    Posted on March 12, 2015

    Awesome research, Maria. Done with your usual thoroughness and dedication. Yes, you have the makings of an excellent detective! Thanks for sharing your research and speculations – excitement for this film just grows and grows!

  • Michelle
    Posted on March 12, 2015

    Thank you sooo much Maria for your fantastic & detailed post. Loved reading it 🙂 So excited for this one. Everything tightly crossed it all comes together!!!

  • Michelle
    Posted on March 12, 2015

    Oh & meant to say, LOVE the gif 😀

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