The project is based on a 50-year-old unproduced screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, which Steven Zaillian will rewrite. The 205-page script is considered one of the greatest unmade screenplays in history, which Dalton Trumbo wrote for actor-producer Kirk Douglas and director Martin Ritt in 1965. Dalton Trumbo was one of the "Hollywood Ten," a group of screenwriters who were blacklisted by the film industry after they refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committtee's hunt to find Communists in America. Dalton Trumbo spent 11 months in jail for contempt, but Kirk Douglas helped bring Dalton Trumbo back into the business by hiring him to write the 1960 classic Spartacus.
The project may be retitled Cortez, shifting focus from Montezuma to Hernando Cortez, the Spanish explorer that Javier Bardem is eyeing to play. The story follows Montezuma and Cortez's bloody battle as Cortez lead a mission to explore Mexico.
It isn't known if this will be Steven Spielberg's next project or not. He has been searching for a follow-up to 2012's Lincoln for most of 2013, after his adaptation Robopocalypse was indefinitely delayed last January. The filmmaker also backed out of another adaptation, American Sniper, in August.